English quiz

How good is your English? Quiz 2

This is the second quiz in a series about mistakes English learners often make. You can watch the first video here: https://youtu.be/1A4gs79Z_KI
In this video we’ll ask you to identify 6 common English mistakes and choose your answer before the clock stops ticking.
We’ll then explain what’s wrong and show you examples of the correct English in action. We’ll also direct you to other videos if you want more examples and help with grammar and vocabulary.
In this English quiz we look at:
– lend and borrow
– loan and borrow
– it’s time + past (subjunctive)
– cook and cooker
– what’s it like vs. do you like
– in time vs. on time

If you’d like to see more examples for mistakes English learners often make, here are links to videos on these topics:
– lend, borrow and loan: https://youtu.be/5Xsh5zf_DZ8
– what’s it like vs. do you like: https://youtu.be/PTNF_oCO2CM
– cook vs. cooker: https://youtu.be/ayVYc1bCz6Q
– in time vs on time: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwrM2Wcy_MsA7GpN8ITPC40l0-NrtMSmn

Are you ready for another quiz?
We’re going to test you with some more tricky English today.
And we’ll help you fix some common mistakes.
Here’s how this works. We’ll ask you some questions and you have to choose an answer before the clock stops ticking.
All the questions are based on mistakes that English students often make.
Some of you asked for some hard questions this time.
Students with different levels of English watch our videos so we don’t want to go super advanced.
But we thought we’d throw in a couple of extra tricky questions this time.
So get ready!
Let’s start with an easy one. This is a very common mistake.

Lend, borrow and loan

Imagine you want to write something down but you don’t have a pen.
What will you ask your friend?

Can you lend me your pen?
Can you borrow me your pen?

Lend and borrow. Lots of languages have just one word for these actions.
But in English we have two. It’s the same action, but from different points of view.
Lending is when we give someone something.
And borrowing is when we take something.

Oh. Can I borrow your glasses?
What?
Can you lend me your glasses?
Sure.
Thank you. Yay.

So we lend things TO people, and borrow things FROM people. Giving and taking.
And they’re temporary actions.

Oh, well give me your number.
Give me your pen.
I need it.
Just for a moment.
You’ll give it back?
I just want to borrow it. Sorry, what was that?

There’s another word that’s similar: loan. A lot of students make mistakes with that too.
In British English, loan is normally a noun. A loan is money that we borrow from a bank.
We say that too, but in American English, we can also use loan as a verb.
Then let’s have another question.
OK. Imagine you’ve left your wallet or purse at home so you have no money. You ask a friend to help.
Are both these questions OK?

Can I borrow $20?
Can I loan $20?

The verb ‘loan’ is like ‘lend’. It’s not like ‘borrow’.
Yes, if you want to say ‘loan’, you’d have to say ‘Can you loan ME $20?’ or ‘He loaned ME his bike.’
And again, it’s just a temporary action.
Yes, if someone loans you money, you have to pay it back.

Here’s that fifty dollars I borrowed.
Oh. Actually you owe me fifty five.
I thought you lent me fifty.
Five dollars interest.
Huh!

If you want more practice with lend, borrow and loan, here’s a link to a video with more examples.
Let’s have a hard one now.

It’s time + past

OK. Imagine some friends invite you round for dinner and you have a great time chatting.
Then you look at the clock and realize it’s midnight. What will you say?

Oh my! It’s time I will leave.
Oh my! It’s time I leave.
Oh my! It’s time I left.

That’s interesting. We were talking about the present and the future there, but we used a past tense.
Yes, it’s not a real past. It’s because the phrase ‘It’s time’ has a special structure.
The technical term for this is a subjunctive.
We could also use an infinitive and say ‘It’s time to go’, but often we use the subjunctive and say ‘It’s time I left.’
That’s tricky. We need another example.
OK. Listen carefully to what I say here:

What time is it?
It’s time you got that watch repaired. Three o’clock.

Did you hear it? She said, ‘It’s time you got that watch repaired’.
So, I said got. Not get. Past tense.
But you will hear people saying get too.
Yes. Strictly speaking get is wrong, but in spoken English we often ignore subjunctives.
OK. Let’s have another question.

Cook – cooker

Imagine your friend has just cooked you a meal.
Everything was delicious. What will you say?

Thank you. You’re a very good cook.
Thank you. You’re a very good cooker.

Students often muddle up cook and cooker, and it can sound very funny.
A cooker is a large piece of equipment or stove that we use to cook food. It’s not a person.
The person who does the cooking is a cook.
If you want more examples, check out this video.

What’s it like vs. Do you like

OK, next question.
You’ve ordered a dish in a restaurant and it doesn’t taste good. Your friend asks you ‘What’s it like?’ What do say?

No, I don’t like it.
It’s very salty and it has a strange peppermint taste.

This question confuses a lot of students.
‘Like’ isn’t a verb here. It’s a preposition that means ‘similar to’.
So this question doesn’t mean ‘Do you like it?’ It means ‘Tell me about it. Describe it to me’.
Here’s another example,

We went to a networking event last night.
Oh, what was it like?
Boring.
It was very useful. There were about a dozen people there and everyone made a short presentation.
I didn’t like it.
Kathy’s not asking if you liked it, Jay. She wants us to tell her about it.
Did you meet any interesting people?
Yes. Well, I did.
I didn’t talk to anybody.

If you’d like more examples, check this link.

In time vs. on time

OK, one more question. Imagine you’re going to a meeting that starts at 3 o’clock.
But the traffic is terrible. And then you can’t find a parking space.
You run to the building where your colleague is waiting for you.
You’re worried that you’ll be late. What question will you ask?

Am I in time for the meeting?
Am I on time for the meeting?

Am I in time for the meeting?
Yeah. Don’t worry, we’ve got ten minutes.
I couldn’t find a parking space.
Come on. Let’s go in.

If we’re in time for something, we’re not late. ‘In time’ means with enough time to spare.
On time is a little different. It means punctually or promptly.

Oh, the train’s coming. It’s right on time.

So ‘on time’ means at the correct time
The time that was scheduled.
Click here to see more examples, and I’ll put links in the description below to other videos we’ve mentioned.
So now it’s time we finished.
Yeah, it’s time we finished – that’s a subjunctive. Did you spot it?
We hope you enjoyed this quiz. Give us a thumbs up if you did.
And why not share this video with a friend?
And subscribe of course, so you don’t miss our future videos.
See you next week everyone. Bye.
Bye-bye.

If you’d like to see more examples for mistakes English learners often make, here are links to videos on these topics:
– lend, borrow and loan: https://youtu.be/5Xsh5zf_DZ8
– what’s it like vs. do you like: https://youtu.be/PTNF_oCO2CM
– cook vs. cooker: https://youtu.be/ayVYc1bCz6Q
– in time vs. on time: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwrM2Wcy_MsA7GpN8ITPC40l0-NrtMSmn

overused word literally meaning

Literally – an overused word?

Is the word literally overused?
And how many syllables does the word literally have?
In this video we compare three different meanings of literally:
1. in a literal way, so with the exact meaning of the words you’re using
2. literally meaning ‘really’ or in ‘truth’
3. literally meaning virtually, when it’s used to exaggerate for effect
Meaning 3 is an example of hyperbole, and it contradicts meaning 1. So literally has opposite meanings.
Many people feel literally shouldn’t be used with meaning 3.
However many great writers in English literature have used literally for dramatic effect.
Also, literally is not the only English word that has two opposite meanings. We also look at the word wicked which can mean very good and very bad, and the verb to dust meaning to remove or to apply dust.

Is the word literally overused?

Did you hear the storm last night?
Yeah, lightning struck a tree across the street.
Really?
Yeah, I literally jumped out of my skin.
Is it possible to literally jump out of your skin?

We had an interesting question from a viewer called Peter.
He said, ‘I hear people saying literally for almost everything. It seems like an overuse of the word. What do you think about it?’
Literally. Some people use this word a lot.
You say literally. 4 syllables.
Literally. What do you say then?
I can say it the same way, but if I’m speaking fast, I say literally. Lit(e)-ral-ly. Three syllables.
Is that a British English thing?
I think so. But the next question is: what does literally mean?
It has three meanings.
The first one is in a literal way – so with the exact meaning of the words you’re using.

The traditional dress of Japan is a ‘kimono’, which literally means a ‘thing to wear’.
And here’s another Japanese word: karate. It literally means the ‘art of empty hands’.

If we mean something literally, it means according to the actual words.
The words with their most basic meaning.
OK, that’s the first meaning. What about the second?
It’s similar. Literally can mean something like ‘really’ or ‘in truth’.
We say literally when something is surprising and we want to emphasize that it is true.

There are literally more than three trillion trees on earth. That’s more trees than there are stars in the galaxy.
And here’s another surprising thing. Did you know that moose are good swimmers? They can literally swim six miles an hour. That’s about 10 kilometers an hour.

But how far can they swim?
A long way. They can keep going for two hours or more. They’re literally excellent swimmers.
So literally means ‘truly’ or ‘really’ in that sentence.
It was surprising, but there was no exaggeration.
Right. And the third meaning of literally is a little different.
That’s when we use ‘literally’ to emphasize things.
So surprising things again.
But this time, they’re not true. They’re false.
Let’s see how it works.

I can’t home yet. I’m literally up to my ears in work.
It was so funny.
We literally died laughing.
She’s literally as tall as a house.
The exam was so hard, his head literally exploded.
I’m so hungry I could literally eat a horse. Or maybe not.
I was so surprised you could have literally knocked me down with a feather.
I’m leaving.
No wait. It’ll literally only take me two seconds to get to you. See! Literally two seconds.

There’s a technical word for examples like this: hyperbole.
Hyperbole – four syllables. Hyperbole is when we exaggerate to add emphasis, or just because it sounds funny.
So let’s review the three meanings and see how they compare.
The first meaning is about the literal meaning of words and it’s exact and very factual. The second meaning is factual too, but this time it adds emphasis to say something is really true. The third meaning adds emphasis as well. But here, you change the original meaning of the words and exaggerate.
Notice that meaning one and meaning three are very different. They’re practically opposites. In meanings one and two, you’re being factual and telling the truth. But with meaning three, you don’t stick to the original meaning of the words. Instead of telling the truth, you exaggerate to get an effect.
Some people think it’s wrong to use literally with meaning three. It’s controversial and people have strong opinions about it. They think you should just use meanings one and two. But you’ll hear meaning three a lot in spoken English. It’s pretty informal and it’s becoming more frequent.
Is meaning three a new usage of the word?
People are using it more often but actually it’s an old usage. Lots of great writers in English literature have used it for effect.

It was used by great writers like Charles Dickens.
And F. Scott Fitzgerald.
And James Joyce.
William Thackeray.
And Charlotte Brontë

So do you think it’s OK to use literally to exaggerate?
Yes and no. Yes, because people use it that way and it’s becoming more common.
Oh right. You can’t stop language change.
Exactly. But also maybe no, because a lot of people complain about it.
Then perhaps use it, but just a little.
Yes, not too often.
I think people complain about when it’s used too much.
And also because they don’t like the idea that one word can have two opposite meanings.
But there are other words that do that. For example: wicked.
Yes, wicked can mean evil. So a wicked witch is very bad. But in informal English, wicked can also mean ‘very good’.
For example, we can say someone has a wicked sense of humor, and it means it’s very good.
There aren’t many words with two opposite meanings like this, but there are a few.
Let’s see if you can spot one.
To dust is an interesting verb because if you’re cleaning your house, you dust it. Dust means removing the dust.
But dust can also mean to cover something with sugar or flour. So if you’re baking cakes you can dust them with sugar.
So dust can mean removing or applying. It has opposite meanings.
Sometimes an English word can have two opposite meanings.
And literally is one of them.
So are we done?
Yes, that’s literally all we have for you this week.
If you’ve enjoyed this video please, share it with a friend.
And don’t forget to subscribe everyone.
See you all next week. Bye-bye.
Bye.

How good is your English

How good is your English? Let’s see!

This video English quiz is about mistakes English learners often make. We look at:
– interested and interesting
– the mistake how long time
– the different meanings of the verbs take and last
control vs. check
high vs. tall
– prepositions we use with the verb pay
We’ll ask you to identify 8 common English mistakes and choose your answer before the clock stops ticking.
We’ll then explain what’s wrong and show you examples of the correct English in action. We’ll also help you find more videos if you want more help with grammar and vocabulary.

If you’d like to see more examples, click the links to these videos:
Interested and interesting
How long does it take?
How long does it last? and take vs. last
Check and control
High and tall
Pay and prepositions

How good is your English?
We’re going to test you today.
We’ve got some common mistakes and we’re going to fix them!
OK, let’s jump right in. We’ll ask you some questions and you have to choose your answer before the clock stops ticking.
They’re all about mistakes that people often make when they’re learning English.
Maybe you make them, or maybe you don’t. Let’s see.

Interesting or interested?

OK. Here’s your first question. 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.
‘Interesting’ and ‘interested’ are both adjectives.
We use ‘interested’ to say how we feel. We use ‘interesting’ to describe the person or thing that causes the feeling.
It can sound funny if you make a mistake with this.
If you say ‘I’m very interesting’ it means you think YOU are very interesting. ‘I’m very interesting’ – it sounds conceited.
But you could say that a character in a book is interesting.
Yes, because then the character makes you feel interested.

This is a very interesting book.
Uhuh.
And I’m very interesting in this book.
What?
This is a book about me.

So -ed describes the feeling and -ing describes the thing that causes the feeling.
This is worth learning because there are lots of other adjectives that follow this pattern.
There’s a link here to a video we’ve made about it. If you’re not sure, go study it!
Let’s have another question.

Time questions

OK. Next one. Your boss has given you a project to do and you’re negotiating the schedule.
She wants you to estimate the time it will take, so what does she ask?
Here are three questions. Are any of them wrong?
How long do you need?
How long time do you need?
How much time do you need?
‘How long time’ is wrong. A lot of students make this mistake.
The phrase ‘how long’ already includes the idea of time.
You could say ‘How much time?’ That works. But normally we just say ‘how long’. ‘How long do you need?’
So don’t say ‘how long time’. That’s wrong!

Take and last

OK, we have another question about time now and it’s a missing word question.
What’s the missing verb here?
How long does it _____ for the moon to travel round the earth?

It takes twenty seven days, seven hours, forty three minutes and eleven point six seconds for the moon to travel around the earth.

We use ‘take’ to talk about the time that’s needed to do something – the time that’s required.
So we often use ‘take’ to talk about journey times and jobs.

So what do you think of my proposal?
Um, I’d like to think about it for a while.
Of course. Take as long as you like. So what do you think?

OK let’s have another question.
All right. Imagine you’ve got a really bad cold and you want to go to the beach this weekend. What are you thinking?
How long is this cold going to take?
How long is this cold going to last?
We’d say last here because we’re talking the about the time it continues.
It’s not the time that’s needed or required to get something done.
It’s about how long something goes on for – or how long it will exist for.
Here’s another example.

Do you want to play a game?
Yeah.
OK. You take a sweet and I’ll take a sweet.
You mean candy.
Uhuh. No, no, no, stop. We put them in our mouths at the same time. The winner is the person who makes their sweet last the longest.
It’s not how fast I can eat it?
No, it’s the opposite.
So I need to make it last a long time?
That’s right.
OK. Ready, set, go.

It’s tricky because we use the verbs take and last to talk about a duration of time.
It’s no wonder students get them confused.
But we use ‘take’ more than we use ‘last’.
Yes, ‘take’ is more common. If you want more help with take and last, check out this playlist.
Next question.

Check and control

OK, this one’s about the verbs ‘control’ and ‘check’.
Imagine you’re telling someone about a flight you took.
Which sentence is correct here?
They stopped us at immigration and controlled our passports.
They stopped us at immigration and checked our passports.
So they check your passports to make sure they’re OK.
But when we go through immigration, there’s a sign saying ‘passport control’.
I know. It’s really confusing. But at immigration they check your passport.
When we examine something to make sure it’s OK or correct, we check it.

Is something wrong?
Is this your car?
Yes.
When was the last time you checked the air in these tires?
I can’t remember.

So that’s checking, but controlling is different.
Controlling is about managing something, or directing it.
Yeah.

Brrrr. I’m cold. I’ll check the thermostat to see if it’s working. The thermostat controls the temperature. Are you cold, Jay?
No, I’m hot.

The thermostat controls the temperature – it manages it.
If you’d like more examples, click this link.
Let’s have an easy one now.

High and tall

OK. Imagine you want to know someone’s height. What question are you going to ask?
How tall are you?
How high are you?

I’m taller than you.
No, you’re not.
Yes, I am.
How did you do that?

We generally use tall when we’re talking about long thin things.
Like people, trees and skyscrapers
And if things are wider than they’re tall, we say high.
For example, a high wall, high waves in the ocean.
So if you say someone is tall, you’re talking about their height.
And if you say someone is high, it means something completely different.
It means they’re on drugs.
You don’t want to make that mistake!
If you want to know more, here’s a video with lots of examples.
OK, next question.

Pay and prepositions

All right. Imagine you’re in an English pub with a friend and you order a round.
A round is a drink for everyone in the group.
Your friend starts to pay the bill, but you want to pay instead. What will you say?
I’ll pay the drinks.
I’ll pay for the drinks.
We pay FOR things that we buy.
But when we say the person we pay, there’s no preposition.
I paid the waiter for the drinks.

Twenty five dollars?
Ooooo pizza!
Yes, come and have some, Kathy.
Who bought it?
Well, I ordered it.
And I paid for it.
Thanks Jay.
I paid $25.
I ordered extra toppings.
You know, I paid the pizza guy last week too.
Do you want us to contribute?
Oh there’s no need. He’s already paid for it.

There are several different prepositions we use with pay – pay for, pay by, pay in …
And sometimes we just say pay with no preposition.
Check this video to learn more. And I’ll put links to all the videos we’ve talked about in the description below.
Is that it for today?
Yeah. How did you do on the quiz?
And was it useful?
If you enjoyed it and would like another quiz one day, tell us in the comments.
And give us a thumbs up.
And why not share this video with a friend?
We’ll be back next Friday with a new video, so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.
See you next week everyone.
Bye-bye.
Bye.

If you’d like to see more examples, click the links to these videos:
Interested and interesting
How long does it take?
How long does it last? and take vs. last
Check and control
High and tall
Pay and prepositions

how to form the third conditional examples

The English Third Conditional in Action

The third conditional (or conditional 3) is probably the trickiest grammar structure in English.
If you’re taking an exam like IELTS, CAE or CPE, this is a really useful conditional to know. You’ll really impress your examiners if you use it correctly.
In this video you’ll:
– see third conditional examples in action in a story. (e.g. If it hadn’t been for you…)
– learn how to form the third conditional and when to use it.

Second and third conditionals are similar because we use them both to talk about imaginary and hypothetical situations.
But we use the second conditional to talk about the present and future and the third conditional to talk about the past – an imaginary past that didn’t happen.


Click here to see a video on the zero conditional
Click here to see a video on the first conditional
Click here to see a video on the second conditional

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.

Hi I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
And this lessons about the most difficult grammar structure in the English language.
It’s the third conditional and it’s so tricky that native English speakers sometimes get it wrong.
If you’re taking an exam like IELTS or Cambridge Advanced or Proficiency, you’ll need to get this right.
But the good news is if you get it right, you’re going to impress your examiners.
When they hear you use this correctly they’re going to think, wow this student’s really good! I’ll give them top marks.
It’s definitely worth studying.
So in this lesson we’ll go through it step by step, so you know how to form it and when to use it.
Let’see how it works. Do you remember the story with Super Agent Awesome?
I was lucky because he stopped a guy who was stealing my handbag.

Super Agent Awesome!
That is me. You mess with the lady, you mess with me.
Oh no!
Oh yeah!
If he’d stolen my bag, he would have got all my money.

When to use the third conditional

Did he steal my bag? No! And did he get all my money? No, he didn’t. We use the third conditional to talk about things that didn’t happen. So what I’m doing here is imagining events in the past that didn’t happen. It’s an unreal past. We use the third conditional to imagine how things could have been different.
Like other conditionals, third conditionals have two parts – two clauses. One is the condition and one is the result. We can reverse the order of the clauses and the meaning stays the same. Just remember to use a comma if the sentence starts with ‘if’.
So third conditionals are about imaginary events – things that didn’t happen.
There’s another conditional that’s about imaginary events – the second conditional.
We’ve made another video about that. I’ll put the link here and you should check it out if you haven’t seen it.
The difference is the second conditional is about an imaginary present or future, but the third conditional is about an imaginary past.
We’re imagining a different past.
And we use different tenses.
Let’s look at them.

How to form the third conditional

In the condition clause we’ve got ’if’ and the past perfect – so not the past – the past perfect. It indicates a distance from reality. And then we have ‘would have’ and the past participle of the verb. I’m British so I said ‘got’ here, but in American English, they’d say ‘gotten’. They have a different past participle.
Notice the contractions here. We have ‘he’d’ in both clauses, but it stands for different words. What’s this one? It’s ‘he had’. And what’s this one? It’s ‘he would’. In the condition clause, it’s the past perfect so it’s ‘had’. And in the results clause it’s would – ‘would have’ and the past participle.
You’ll often hear native English speakers say ‘would have’ in the condition clause like this. But it’s not standard English.
It sounds uneducated to me. Be careful not to do this if you’re taking an exam.
Yes. it’s becoming more common in spoken English but strictly speaking, it’s wrong. I think sometimes the contractions confuse people.
What other contractions do we use?
There’s I’d, you’d, he’d, she’d, it’d, (yes, we really do say it’d) we’d and they’d.
And it’s the same contraction for ‘had’ and ‘would’. For example, ‘I’d’ can stand for ‘I had’ AND ‘I would’.
Let’s look how we form the negatives now.

If I’d been faster, he wouldn’t have caught me
If I hadn’t stopped him, he would have escaped.

Again, both these things didn’t happen. Super Agent Awesome did stop him and he didn’t escape, so we’re imagining a different past again. To form the negative of the past perfect, we use ‘hadn’t’. I hadn’t, you hadn’t, he hadn’t, she hadn’t. The verb form doesn’t change, so it’s pretty easy. The contraction of had and not is hadn’t.
And here we have a negative in the results clause. The negative contraction of would and not is wouldn’t. He wouldn’t have caught me.
Notice that I’m expressing regret in this sentence and wishing things had been different.
We often do that. We use the third conditional to express regret.
So when we feel sorry about things that happened.
But sometimes we use it when we’re thankful as well. And we heard a good example of that too.

Thank you Super Agent Awesome. If it hadn’t been for you, he’d have gotten away.

Here’s a useful phrase: If it hadn’t been for you…
We use this when someone affects a situation somehow and makes a positive difference.
And then we say how things could have turned out differently.
Actors say it when they win an award. They give a speech and thank everybody and say ‘If it hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t have won this Oscar’.
You can say it to your teachers. ‘If it hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t have passed my exam’.
OK, I have a different question for you now. Is ‘would’ the only modal verb you can use in the third conditional?
It isn’t. You can also say could, should and might.
They have slightly different meanings but they could all work. Just remember to use them with ‘have’ and the past participle.
OK, so now it’s time for you to try. Can you think of something you regret in your life, or something you feel thankful for or happy about and then make a third conditional about it.
Write it in the comments.
Do you want to try, Vicki?
Me?
Yes, give us an example.
If I hadn’t met Jay, I wouldn’t have started this YouTube channel.
OK. Let me try.
If Vicki hadn’t started this YouTube channel, we might not have met so many interesting people from all around the world.
We’re looking forward to reading your sentences.
OK so now we’ve made videos about zero conditionals, first conditionals, second conditionals and third conditionals.
Yes, I’m going to put a link here to a playlist with the other videos so you can check them out and compare them.
So are we done?
Not really because some conditionals are mixed. We mix up the tenses.
Shall we make another video about that?
Yes, so make sure you subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss it.
If you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend.
And see you all next week everyone! Bye.
Bye-bye.

Click here to see a video on the zero conditional
Click here to see a video on the first conditional
Click here to see a video on the second conditional

like in English conversation

The word like in English conversation. It’s like 🤩

Do you think the word like is used too much by young people?
Learn some different ways we use the word like in English conversation and informal spoken English and see the word like in action in a conversation with Super Agent Awesome.
One use that’s common with young speakers is the quotative like. That’s when they use ‘like’ instead of says or thinks to report someone’s words or thoughts.
Some people complain that the word like is used too much by young people and it’s sloppy English. But it isn’t just youthful slang and there are useful functions that like performs.
We’ll show you how like can signal approximation or exaggeration, how we use like as a discourse marker and also how like can be combined with a dramatic face to describe someone’s feelings.


Click here to learn the difference between ‘Do you like…?’ and ‘What’s it like?’
Click here to learn how to use ‘be like’, ‘look like’ and ‘be alike’.

Like in English conversation

‘Like’. This is such a common word in English, but do you know how it’s used in colloquial English? And do you know what it means in teenage slang?

Today we’re very lucky to have some help. Super Agent Awesome is here.
Thank you Vicki.

I’m Jay and I’m American.
And I’m Vicki and I’m British.
The word ‘like’ has several meanings in English.
It can be a verb. For example, ‘I like you’.
I like you too!
And it can also be a preposition.
So we could say ‘What’s it like? or ‘It looks like …’
I’ll put a link here to other videos we’ve made about that.
But today we’re looking at some colloquial uses of ‘like’ – in other words how we use it when we’re speaking informally.
And in slang. It’s a word that young people use a lot.
Luckily we have Super Agent Awesome to help us.
Let’s see an example.

The quotative like

Is there anything you complain about doing?
I will be like Mom, ‘I want to play Fortnite again. Please, please, please!’
So you complain about not playing Fortnite.
Yeah, I feel like everyone should play Fortnite!

Did you catch it?
He said ‘I feel like everyone should play Fortnite.’
Well he loves that game, but he also said this.
So he used ‘like’ to report what he’ll say to his Mom.
This use of ‘like’ is particularly common with young people.
We call this the quotative ‘like’ because it’s about quoting what people say and also what they’re thinking. So it has a more general meaning than just ‘say’. It can mean ‘think’ too because you can use it to describe inner feelings and thoughts.
Notice we always use the verb ‘be’ here. You can change the tense, so you can use the future ‘I will be like …’ Or the past, ‘I was like …’ but we always use the verb ‘be’.
Is this use of like just an American thing?
No. Though they think it started in California in the 1980s. But it’s used by English speakers all over the world these days.

Do you think like is used too much?

Some people complain that young people use the word ‘like’ too much. They think it’s sloppy English.
Sloppy. Sloppy means without care or effort.
Do you think it’s sloppy and lazy?
No. I think it’s very interesting because languages change over time and if you look carefully, you find ‘like’ has new and useful functions in English. It can signal what we say and think and it can signal other things too.
Then let’s look at another example.

More functions that like performs

Do you ever complain about having to go to bed at a certain time?
Yeah. So one time, I was watching a movie, um, it was like Hotel Transylvania III. And then there was this really dramatic action scene, and like the villain is about to beat the hero, or the hero is about to beat the villain, but then Dad stopped me and I had to go to bed.
Uhuh.

Why did he say ‘like’ here?
Well he was remembering, but he wasn’t totally sure. Perhaps that was the movie, or perhaps it was a different one.
So ‘like’ signaled he wasn’t sure?
Yes and he said it again later.
Now the hero is the good guy and the villain is the bad guy.
And he couldn’t remember who was winning, so he signaled that by saying ‘like’
‘Like’ signaled he wasn’t sure.
Yes. This isn’t just a feature of young people’s speech. We use ‘like’ in the same way.
It signals uncertainty or that something is approximate.
For example, it’s like this big. And it could be this big or it could be this big.
‘Like’ signals an approximation.
It means what I’m saying might not be perfectly accurate. And it can also signal exaggeration. It’s like this big!
That sounds like a useful function!
And another way we use ‘like’ is as a discourse marker
What do you mean?
It’s a word we use to organize our speech. For example … Like … Well … So … We put like it at the start of a sentence when we’re thinking of what to say.
So it’s a filler. Like Errr … and Umm …..
Yes, it’s a word that fills a space and helps us speak more smoothly.
OK. Let’s hear another story.

Can you name something that you’ve had to apologize for doing?
Oh I know, I know, I know, I know. The time where I buried my Dad’s ring. I had to apologize for burying my Dad’s wedding ring.

Before we carry on, do you know the word ‘bury’.
It means to put something in the ground.
When people die we bury them. It’s a regular verb. Bury, buried, buried.
A dog could bury a bone in the ground.
We can bury treasure too.

I had to apologize for burying my Dad’s wedding ring. The reason why I did it was because I wanted to use the metal detector. Then I told my Dad and said ‘Dad, where’s the metal detector?’ Then my Dad was like your brother took it apart a couple of months ago, and then I’m like … Dad was like ‘Yo, what’s wrong?’ And then I was like Argh! I buried your wedding ring. And then my Dad was like … Oh! So that’s why you wanted to use the metal detector.

Did you understand everything?
He buried his Dad’s wedding ring in the yard.
Or in British English, the garden.
He buried it in the yard so he could try to find it with the metal detector.
But their metal detector was broken because his brother had taken it apart.
Did they ever find the ring?
No. I think it’s still lost. Let’s hear what his Dad said again.

And then my Dad was like … Oh! So that’s why you wanted to use the metal detector.

He’s lucky because his Dad is really nice.
He was very understanding.
OK, there was one more use of ‘like’ there that’s common and pretty funny.

Your brother took it apart a couple of months ago and then I’m like ….

So you can say ‘like’ and then make a funny face.
It’s very common.
And easy too. No words, just a dramatic face.
I want to say a big thank you to Super Agent Awesome for helping us make this video.
He was like … !
If you enjoyed this video, please give it a thumbs up and share it with your friends.
See you next week everyone. Bye.
Bye-bye.

Click here to learn the difference between ‘Do you like…?’ and ‘What’s it like?’
Click here to learn how to use ‘be like’, ‘look like’ and ‘be alike’.

how to report an emergency in English

Emergency English – making a 911 or 211 call

This lesson’s about how to make English emergency calls such as a 911 or 112 call.
You’ll learn how to report an emergency in English and how to report your location to get help fast.
We give examples of different emergencies you might need to report like:
– Someone’s choked on some food
– I think someone’s trying to break into my home
– There’s been a car accident
– Someone’s walked into a glass window
We also look at questions response workers typically ask such as:
– Are they male or female?
– How old is he?
– Is he conscious?
– Is he breathing?
Finally we’ll show you an English emergency call so you can see some of the phrases in action.

Click here to see more vocabulary lessons.

How to report an emergency in English

Hi. I’m Vicki and you’re going to learn some words and phrases that we hope you’ll never need!
And I’m Jay and this lesson is really important. It’s vocabulary you must learn, just in case.
If there’s an emergency, what number do you dial for help?
In the US it’s 911.
And in the UK it’s 999 or 112. It’s 112 in most European countries.
Emergency numbers are generally short – usually just three numbers.
So you can remember them and dial them quickly.
They’ll connect you to the service you need, like ambulance, police or fire.

What’s your emergency?
What emergency are you reporting?
What service do you need? Ambulance, police or fire brigade?

What do we call the people who answer the phones?
Well, they have several names. They’re operators because they operate the phones.
Or responders because they answer questions and do things.
Or dispatchers because they send people to help.
My husband has choked on some food and he’s not breathing.
Help! My house is on fire.
I think someone’s trying to break into my home.
My son walked into a glass window and cut his head.
There’s a guy in Falworth Park who needs help. I think he’s having a heart attack.
There’s been a car accident on Ridge Pike.
In emergency calls, it’s crucial to state your location – to tell the dispatchers where you are.
Location is the most important thing. If they don’t know where you are, they can’t send help.

What’s your location?
What’s the address?
What’s the address of the emergency?
Where are you exactly?

Give any useful information you can about location.
You need to be exact and as helpful as possible.

It’s 4 Vandyke Street and we’re in flat 6 on the second floor.
It’s the building on the corner, with two big antennas.

You might be able to name a local landmark or nearby business.

We’re in front of the Philadelphia art museum.
We’re across the road from the Bagel Factory.

The address is really crucial, so the dispatchers will want to check they’ve got it right.

Can you repeat it to make sure I have it correctly?
So the address is 20 Vandyke Street? That’s where we’re going, right?

Once they have the address they can send help. But stay on the line so they can collect more information.
If someone is hurt or injured, they’ll ask you about the patient.

Is the patient male or female?
How old is he?

You might not know the patients’ age and that’s all right. You can make a rough guess.

She’s a young teenager.
Oh, he’s middle-aged.
She looks like she’s in her late twenties.

Two more important questions are ‘are they conscious?’ and ‘are they breathing?’
Conscious means awake and able to understand what’s happening.
And breathing means taking air into the lungs and sending it out again.

Is he conscious?
Is she awake?
Is he breathing?
Does she appear to be breathing?
Is he fully alert?

If you’re alert, you can think quickly and clearly, so you know what’s happening.
The responders may also want information about the accident and what’s happening now.

Tell me exactly what happened?
What’s happening now?
Are you with the patient right now?
Are you alone?
Is anyone helping?
Is someone giving first aid?
Is anyone giving CPR?

First aid is simple medical treatment that we give to people before a doctor comes.
CPR is the abbreviation for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It’s when you press on someone’s chest to keep them alive if they’ve stopped breathing or if their heart has stopped beating.
The emergency service might want you to stay and help.
And then they’ll give you instructions.

An English emergency call

My co-worker fell off a ladder and he’s bleeding.
Where are you?
We’re at the construction site at 20th and Arch.
So the address is 20th and Arch? Is that where we’re going?
Yes. The south west corner. We’re on the first floor.
The south west corner of 20th and Arch. First floor. Is that right?
Yes.
How old is your co-worker?
He’s about fifty. Please come quick.
Help is on the way. They’ll be with you shortly. Is he conscious?
No.
Is he breathing?
Is he breathing, Mike?….
Yes. he’s breathing.
Is someone with you?
Yes, my supervisor Mike is here.
He’s coming round.
He’s coming around.
So the patient is conscious?
Yes, but he needs stitches.
Is there serious bleeding?
Yes, from his head.
Is there blood spurting out or pouring out?
No.
OK. Don’t move him unless it’s absolutely necessary. Tell him to sit still and wait for help to arrive.
Tell him to sit still, Mike. Is anyone coming?
Yes, help is on the way.

Coming around means becoming conscious again.
So you’re unconscious and then you come round or come to. It means become conscious.
We saw a lot of blood there.
Blood is the red liquid that flows through your body.
If blood is spurting, it’s coming from an artery. The heart pumps blood through arteries.
And if blood is pouring, it’s probably coming from a vein, and it’s on its way back to the heart.
When you lose blood, you bleed. So bleed is the verb. Bleed, bled, bled.
He was bleeding from a wound in his head. A wound is an injury where there’s a hole in your skin.
And a stitch is a short piece of thread that doctors use to sew the edges of a wound together.

I’m going to give you some instructions to control the bleeding, so listen carefully.
OK.
Do you have a clean dry towel or cloth?
Mike does, yes.
Place it on the wound and press down firmly. Don’t lift it up to look.
Hold it down on the wound, Mike. Press it firmly. Don’t lift it up.
OK.
If he becomes less awake and vomits, quickly turn him on his side.
OK. Help is on the way?
Yes, they’ll be with you in just a minute.
Oh, I can hear them. Thank you, thank you so much.

To vomit means to be sick. To bring up your food.
We’ve made another video about that and other sickness vocabulary.
I’ll put the link here.
And another thing you heard was a siren.
Ambulances, police cars and fire engines all have sirens. [makes the noise]
No that’s a British siren. An American one goes [makes the noise]
And that’s it everyone!
Are we finished?
Yeah.
But there’s one more thing we should mention. Don’t call the emergency services unless you really need them!
Don’t make calls that waste their time.
Only call if it’s an emergency.
It’s got to be something where you need help right way.
A medical emergency or immediate danger.
We hope that never happens to you!
Now, if you think this video was useful, please share it with a friend.
And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and click the notification bell so you hear about our future videos.
See you next week, bye-bye.
Bye.

Click here to see more vocabulary lessons.

disagree in English

How to Disagree like a Native Speaker

Disagreeing is tricky in any language. It means you’re saying someone else is wrong or different and linguists have found it’s a dispreferred response.
In this lesson we look at some steps English native speakers often follow when they disagree:

  • Hesitating
    Asking challenging questions
    Saying ‘yes but…’ and adding their objections

We note how the phrases I agree and I don’t agree are explicit and formal and hence have limited uses in everyday conversations, namely to report other people’s opinions and to clear up misunderstandings.

Click here to see our video on 12 ways to agree in English

Disagreeing in English

Is this the design?
Uhuh.
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?
Yes.
You know, you’re absolutely right.
Really?
Yep. Black and white is perfect.
You think so?
Yeah. Don’t change a thing.
Then I’m going to make it in color.
OK.
What just happened there?

Agreeing is easy in English and we’ve made another video about that.
Disagreeing is harder because people don’t like to disagree.
It can damage relationships.
So how do we disagree in English?
In this video you’ll learn some of the things we say, and some things we don’t say too.
Let’s start with that. Look at these phrases.
I don’t agree and I disagree. They mean the same thing.
But are they common phrases in spoken English?
They’re grammatically correct.
Yes, but are they things we often say?
I’m going to guess yes.
You’re wrong!
What do you mean, I’m wrong?!
My students say them a lot, but native English speakers don’t use these phrases much in normal conversation.
How do you know?
Well, these days we have big data banks with lots of examples of spoken English so we can look at things like this.
And, we don’t say these phrases much?
Not in everyday conversation.
Then what do we say?
We need an example!

How native English speakers do it

Are you ready?
Yes.
Well let’s go. …… What’s the matter?
Are you going to wear that shirt?
Yes. It’s my Phillies championship shirt. It’s my favorite.
Yeah, but it’s ten years old.
That’s when we won the championship.
Yes, but it’s got a hole in it! Throw it away.
No way, it’s my favorite!
You look a mess.
Stop nagging.
I don’t want to be seen with you in that shirt.
Well then I’ll go on my own.

OK, so what happened there?
Well the conversation followed some steps. Linguists have found that when we disagree it often goes in steps.
What did we say?
Well first of all, I didn’t say anything.

Are you ready?
Yes.
Well let’s go. ……

You hesitated.
Yes, so first I kept quiet.
There was a pause.
And then what did I do?

Well let’s go. …. What’s the matter?
Are you going to wear that shirt?

You asked a question.
That’s very common. Instead of disagreeing we ask questions.
Challenging questions. And then what did you say?

Are you going to wear that shirt?
Yes, it’s my Phillies championship shirt. It’s my favorite.
Yeah, but it’s ten years old.
That’s when we won the championship.
Yes, but it’s got a hole in it!

You said ‘yes but…’ and raised an objection.
Yeah.
‘Yes but….’ means no!
Uhuh. ‘Yes but’ is the most common phrase we use to disagree.
And then after that, we got into a fight.
Yes, once it’s clear there’s disagreement, we say what we really think.
So there were four steps – hesitating, questioning, ‘yes but’ and then the fight.
We don’t always take every step, but it’s a typical pattern.
We start slowly and build.
Maybe you do this in your language too?

Disagreeing – a dispreferred response

Agreeing is easier. We can just say ‘You’re right’, and nobody gets upset.
Yeah.
Disagreeing is harder because we’re saying someone’s wrong or different.
Linguists call disagreeing a dispreferred response. We prefer to say ‘Yes, you’re right’.
How about if we say ‘I’m sorry but I disagree’ or ‘I’m afraid I disagree’.
So add an apology?
It softens the disagreement.
Yes, but again it’s not frequent in normal conversation. So it could sound weird. We normally say something like ‘Yes but…’ instead.

How to use I don’t agree and I disagree

So let’s go back to these phrases. Are there any situations where we do use them?
Perhaps a formal meeting. They sound formal.
‘Excuse me Ms. Chairperson. I disagree.’
Yeah, or if you’re taking part in a political discussion on a television talk show. Politicians often say them.

We can afford to make these investments. Now I know there are Republicans in Congress who disagree with my approach.
We can afford to make these investments. Now I know there are Republicans in Congress who disagree with my approach.

Notice what Obama did here. He used the verb ‘disagree’ to report other people’s opinions.
He wasn’t saying ‘I disagree with you’.
He was reporting what other people think. Here’s another example.

This is the camera we should buy.
Ooo, I see. And what does Kathy think?
She thinks we should buy this camera.
Oooo. So she doesn’t agree with you.
Yeah but Kathy doesn’t know anything about cameras.

So if we’re reporting someone else’s opinions, we’ll say they don’t agree or they disagree.
Yes, disagree is often a reporting verb. And we use it when we want to be explicit.
Being explicit means being extra clear about what we mean.
That might happen if there’s a misunderstanding.

So this camera costs $5,000.
Yes. It’s a high-end camera with all the features we need.
But this one only costs $2000.
Yeah, but it can’t shoot slow motion.
I don’t think we need that.
Exactly. We don’t need the cheaper camera.
No, I mean we don’t need slow motion. I don’t agree with you.
You think we should get the cheaper camera?
Yeah.
No!

So we misunderstood one another there.
Yes, I had to be extra clear.
And that’s why you said I don’t agree with you.
Yes. These phrases are formal and explicit, so be careful. A lot of students over use them.
Don’t use them too much.
When we disagree we normally, hesitate, question, say ‘yes but’ and add that objection.
OK. Let’s see another example of that.

There’s something wrong with that thermostat.
You know, I’ve noticed that too. The temperature keeps shooting up.
Did you say up?
Yes.
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!

It is freezing! You agree with me, don’t you?
Feel free to disagree in the comments.
And that’s it for today everyone.
Is that all? We’re done already?
Uhuh.
But we haven’t looked at how we can prevent arguments in English.
We’ll do that another day.
So make sure you subscribe to our channel everyone.
And hit the notification bell so you don’t miss it.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this video and find it useful.
If you have, please share it with a friend.
See you next week everyone. Bye-bye.
Bye.

SEVY speaking challenge awards with Vicki and Jay

The SEVY Awards 2019 with Vicki and Jay

Vicki and Jay are very proud to welcome you to the 2019 SEVY (Simple English Videos, Yay!) Award Ceremony, where you’ll meet students from many different countries who are learning English.

Speaking in English is a challenge. You’re bound to think, ‘Am I making mistakes?’ or ‘Am I saying this right?’ Now imagine you’re not just talking to one or two people, but you’re talking to the world!

A few weeks ago we set our viewers a challenge. We asked them to record a video where they’re speaking in English and we’ve been blown away by the response.

So now we’re very proud to share their work and introduce you to some of the wonderful people who watch our channel, and to learn about why they’re learning English and their goals.

Click here to see some hang out videos with Vicki and Jay.
Click here to see some more Simple English Videos.

The SEVY Awards 2019

We’re very proud to welcome you to the 2019, SEVY award ceremony.
Speaking in English is a challenge. You’re bound to think, ‘Am I making mistakes?’ or ‘Am I saying this right?’
Now imagine you’re not just talking to one or two people, but you’re talking to the world!
A few weeks ago we set our viewers a challenge. We asked them to record a video where they’re speaking, that we would share with the world.
And we’ve been blown away by the response.
And today we’re very proud to share their work and introduce you to some of the wonderful people who watch our channel.
And to learn about why they’re learning English and their goals.
Congratulations to everyone who took part! You are all winners of the Simple English Videos award for rising to this challenge.
It’s the Simple English Videos ‘Yay! You did it’ award.
Otherwise known as the SEVY.
So now it’s time to see what they said.

Hi Vicki and hi Jay, and hi everyone. My name is Wan. My name is Rian. We are English teachers from Palang Singkawang, Indonesia. I learn English because I want to study in the UK. And I learn English because I want to study in Australia. Thank you. Bye.

Well I reckon they should win the SEVY for wonderful positive energy.
And for team work. They were well rehearsed.
They must be great teachers.

My name is Mehli Khusnaliana and I’m a student. I’m Indonesian and I’m Muslim. OK. I like… I like the English language. Ok, Thank you. Simple English Videos! Yes!

I think she’s adorable.
And I think she should get the SEVY for enthusiasm.
And maybe the best giggle.

Hi there. I’m Alex and I’m from Russia. I’m studying English for several years because I need it for my work and also I want to pass an IELTS exam this year because I want to move to some warm country, um, for example, to Canada. Wait, what? Canada is not a warm country? So anyway, I’ll pick something else.

OK, he’s got to win the SEVY for the best joke.
If you can crack a joke in another language, you’re doing very well!

Hello, I’m from India. My name is Siddhant and English is my favorite subject. Love from India.

Love to you in India too, Siddhant!
That was short, sweet and very clear.
He could also get a SEVY for the cheeky grin. I was looking for something that would help me teach the phrase cheeky grin the other day. I wish I’d had this video then.

Hello Vicki and Jay. My name is Dan. And my name is Ann. We live in Russia in Novosibirsk. We are both lawyers. I am learning English because I want to watch films in English. And I’m learning English because I want to read in English. Goodbye. Bye.

Those were great goals.
They are great goals. And did you see the book she was reading?
It was Sherlock Holmes, my favorite detective!
I think you get the reading prize. And actually that is a great book for everyone to read.

Hi! My name’s Milena. I’m 15 years old. I’m from Brazil and I live in Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul. Next year, I finish my high school and after I want to study English in the USA. Thank you. Bye-bye.

She gets the SEVY for confidence. And I also want to give a shout out to her mum, Mariza, who also tried to make a video for us. And Mariza has gone back to university after 28 years and she’s studying to be an English teacher.
We have both gone back to university in our later years and we know what a commitment that is so good luck to you Mariza.

Hi everyone. I’m Abdurrahman Dala. I’m from Nigeria. I’m a teacher. I teach English. I’m a fan of a British accent. I love the accent. I love it. I love to pronounce words like you do, Vicki. Thank you. Bye-bye.

He gets the SEVY for best costume and best smile.
And I like the way he walked into the shot.
I liked his taste in accents. I loved your accent too.

Hi Vicki. Hi Jay. My name’s Derya. I’m from Turkey. I’m thirty four years old. I’m not working. I’m a housewife. I have three children – two daughters, one son. And my English goal is speaking like a native English person. I love speaking so much. And that’s all. I love you. Thanks for your videos.

She gets the SEVY for perseverance
Yes. This is because Derya had difficulties send us the video, and when I spoke to her, she said she’d recorded it about 50 times before she was able to make something that she felt she could send us. Well done Derya, it was great.

Hi Vicki and Jay. I’m Dicky and I’m from Bogor, Indonesia. I’m a student and I’m studying English. My English goals are to chat with my friend in English and to teach my friend who can’t speak English. Thank you. Bye-bye.

Well done!
Yeah. He must get the ‘Friendly’ SEVY because he’s learning to chat with friends, but also he’s going to help his friend learn English! Well done Dicky!

Hey, I am Kaei from the Czech Republic. I am a charity volunteer here, and English is my passion. Thank you so much for your videos.

Kaei, we’re so glad you like our videos.
And you get the SEVY for giving back to the community with your charity work.

Hi, my name is Ashish. I am from India. I was working in Samsung Electronics as a promoter. I want to learn English so I can feel confident when I am speaking with my customers and colleagues.

Ashish, you get the repeat performance SEVY.
Ashish was in our video last year and it’s great to see you back, Ashish. And we’re sorry to hear you’ve been ill and we wish you better soon and it’s great to see you’re still supporting England.

Hello Vicki and Jay. My name is Melany and I’m from Colombia. Now I live in New York and I am an English student. I have lived here for a short time and your videos have helped me a lot to learn more and improve my English. And thank you very much. I love your videos.

Wow! Melany. I grew up in New York and I know how difficult it can be in that great big city to find your way, especially when English is not your first language. Good for you.
You get the ‘Traveller SEVY’.

Hello Jay and Vicki. I’m Martin. I live in a small European country named Slovakia, and I’m a graphic design student. My goals in terms of learning English is to improve myself in fluency and vocabulary, and I’ve been to England once, however, I really would fancy to go there again.

Martin, that was really interesting. I could hear a British accent in your Slovakian accent.
Your pronunciation was great. You get the SEVY for that.
He’s in school, right?
Yes, but he’s studying graphic design.
Oh, not English.
Yeah. Really good Martin.

Hello.
Hello, I am Meg, and this is my brother. We are Georgians. Now I study icon painting and I learn… study English because I love learning languages so much. And I love you so much Vicki and Jay.

I think I saw an icon painting behind her. And Meg, you have to get the SEVY for the best big sister.
And the youngest SEVY award goes to your brother.

Hi. My name is Arthur. I’m from Brazil and I learn English after being one year in New Zealand in 2015, and my goal is to be able to communicate with people all around the world and to understand them properly. And that’s all! Thank you very much, and your channel has been very helpful. I just love your tips. Thank you.

Thank you Arthur. That was a great compliment. By the way, you spoke very clearly.
Yes, your pronunciation was good, but I’m tempted to give you the SEVY instead for set design.
Did you see all the posters behind him?
Yes, apparently he’s studying for an exam. Good luck in your exam.

Hi Vicki and Jay. I am very honored for being seen by you and I’m a little bit nervous. OK, I’m Michelle and I’m from China. I’m a pharmacist working in the hospital. I learn English just for fun and interest. I love watching YouTube videos from English teachers like you. I hope that some day I could speak fluently and confidently with native English speakers, or maybe some day I could participate in some jobs that involve English. That’s all. Hope you like my video! Bye-bye.

That was really very fluent. Thank you Michelle.
Do you know that that was the first time she’d spoken English in public!
Really?
Yeah. And she was nervous about it. Michelle you get the prize for courage. You did really well!

Hello Jay and hello Vicki. I’m Wesley. I’m from Sao Paolo, Brazil. I’m a biology student at the last year and I want to improve my English and teach my girlfriend too. I love England and Scotland. I support Liverpool. And I love you both. Bye.

Bye-bye. He’s supporting Liverpool.
Wesley, you get the SEVY for being the best boyfriend, because he’s helping his girlfriend learn English too.
Good for you!

Hello, I’m Olga. I’m Russian. I used to work in finance but these days I stay at home. I take some time out to take care of my little one. And it’s a great time for me to dive into learning English. I learn English mainly for fun but I also have a dream to become an English teacher someday, and I also hope to go to England and to the United States some day again. Thank you for your wonderful lessons and for this challenge. Bye-bye.

We heard the little one there.
Olga, you get the SEVY for vocabulary because we heard lots of great phrases there like time out, little one, dive into. Good job!
Excellent, thank you.

Hi Vicki and Jay. I’m Eduardo from Catamarca, a northern province of Argentina. Well, I’m studying English at University and my big goal is to get my degree as an English teacher. I hope to get it in a couple of years. Well, thank you so much for your work. You are doing a really great job. Thank you so much, and see ya.

Another great compliment. Thank you very much. I think he gets the SEVY for being warm and friendly.
I know. I would love to have you as my teacher. I think you’re going to be great.

Hello. This is Gala from Russia. I started learning English when I was already 46, from scratch. It was 7 years ago. I was told it was too late, but look at me now. I can speak and in a month help others. I am an aspiring pronunciation tutor for beginners. From my experience, you can communicate successfully even if your English is just basic. Sincerity and simplicity always work. And thank you Vicki and Jay. I learn from you.

Galina, you get the inspiration SEVY – the award for inspiring us all.
Yes, I’ve had lots of students who have asked me ‘Am I too old to learn a language?’ and you are a wonderful example of how you’re never to old. And I also think that your advice about being sincere and keeping things simple is very valuable too.
Thank you.
And bravo! Good job!

Hello. My name is Tahir Shafiq. I am from Pakistan. I live in Lahore which is the second most populous city in Pakistan. It’s famous for its ancient buildings and gardens. I run my own provisioning store which includes a variety of items like soaps, detergents, grocery items, beverages, etc. I have 3 objectives for learning English. Firstly, I can use my writing skills with correspondence with my suppliers. Secondly, I can use my listening skills while watching movies because I love watching movies. Lastly, I can use English when I visit other countries for tours. I love tourism. OK. Take care, Bye.

Tahir, that was so well organized.
Yes, in fact you win the SEVY for structure, because all your thoughts were clearly laid out and it meant you could convey a lot of information in a short time, and that’s an excellent skill, and a very good business skill too.
Thank you very much.
Great job!

Hello Vicki, hello Jay, hello everyone. My name is Quynh. I’m 13 years old and I’m from Vietnam. Today I am really happy to share with you my English goal. My goal is to reach a higher level of English fluency which is advanced. This includes my grammar and my vocabulary. As you see, my grammar is not so good. I always make a mistake when I’m talking. And my vocabulary is not enough to cover all of my thoughts. The only thing for me to do to reach my goal is to study more and do more exercises in English. Also, watching Simple English Videos is a good way for me to expand my vocabulary and to know more rules about grammar. Thank you so much for listening.

Well thank you for submitting that video. It was very impressive. In fact I think she gets the SEVY for being impressive.
She is, isn’t she! Fantastic job, Quyn! I mean your grammar was great, your fluency was great, your pronunciation was great. Impressive is the word, and she’s only 13!

Hi Vicki and Jay. Zdraveite! Hola! My name is Galina, and I am from Bulgaria but I’m currently in Spain. I have diverse work experience, in many fields of life. Actually, I would be glad if I can work for you guys. If you think that I can contribute in any way to Simple English Videos, I’ll be glad to help. What I want to achieve in English is to gain more self confidence, because I still freeze whenever I meet a native speaker and have to speak to him or her, no matter the topic. Well, that’s for now. Thanks for listening and watching. See you, I mean I will see you. Adios, ciao.

Well you didn’t freeze there. That was just terrific!
It was fantastic. Well done Galina! I.. yeah, what do you want to give this SEVY for?
For the best location shoot!
Because you saw the Spanish beach! I’d like to give a SEVY as well for being most helpful! We wish we could give you a job. Wow! We’ve got to work out a way to earn money Jay.

Hi Vicki and Jay. I love your channel so much. My name is Nick and I’m living in South Korea. I’m a business …. who works for a Korean commercial company. I first started learning English for practical purposes, such as joining the meeting without a translator, and getting a global career in the future. But nowadays, it became one of my pleasures in daily life. I hope that I will be able to lead meetings with international co-workers at the end of this year. I’m so excited because I can go on this journey with you guys. Let me finish the video with a sentence that I read nowadays like a mantra. The repetition of a little tiny effort will make me stronger.

The repetition of a little tiny effort makes me stronger. That’s the best mantra we’ve heard today.
It’s a very good mantra for language learning as well. Because there’s nothing very difficult about learning English if you break it down into small steps and keep repeating them.
I also liked his story. How he started learning English for his work, and then it became a pleasure in his life. Yes.
So he gets the SEVY for …
Best mantra. Well done Nick.

Hello Vicki, hello Jay. My name is Maja Terese. I’m 15 years old. I’m from Norway. I’m in my last year of secondary school and next year I’m moving on to high school, where I’m going to go the specialized studies and general line. I like the English language and I’ve learned it for 10 years now, ever since first grade. And I wish to study it and get better at it in university. When I grow up I want to become a teacher – an English teacher. I enjoy talking English. I do it all the time. And I write English with my friends. My English goal for the year is to improve my pronunciation. I always pronounce words wrongly, I feel. And I also need to settle on whether I want to speak American English or British English which I both wish to do. That was my English goal and a bit about me and I’m sorry this video is long. Goodbye.

We’re still deciding which accents to use as well!
I recommend the American accent!
By the way, you didn’t mispronounce any words in that video. It was really good. There must be a very high standard of English in Norway.
I know and you were very fluent too, and she’s only 15.
Spectacular. Thank you so much for the video.
I think you should get the SEVY for fluency.

Hi, my name is Miriam Keller. I’m from Sao Paulo, Brazil. I live in Sao Paulo. I’m a retired secretary but I still work because I have to, and English is my working tool. So, I’m always… I’m always trying to find interesting things, review things, learn more, and so on. And your videos are fantastic. I always recommend them to friends and colleagues. And I always… I always try to watch them. Well, I’m retired, but as I say, I like very much languages, and I like very much to read, and go to the movies, and so on, listen to music. So, English is very important to me. Thank you very much. Bye-bye.

Miriam I know exactly what you mean about having to go back to work after you’re retired.
Yes, but you know you’re a wonderful example for us all, because you’re finding things that you like, like movies and reading, and making English fun. So I feel like Miriam should have another inspiration SEVY.
Excellent. Thank you Miriam.

I am 12 years old and I am studying in the seventh grade. About myself I can say that I am a fun, clever, industrious and friendly girl. I want to speak fluently in English – from my native language, Ukrainian. I like to draw. I have a sister. Her name is Sasha. She is studying in the pedagogical college. In the future she will be an interpreter or English teacher. She is a friendly, compassionate and clever girl. I love my sister but sometimes she takes away our notebook and it is bad because I can’t watch English cartoons! By the way, Vicki and Jay, we use your lessons in our English lessons. We like your videos and you’re like real actors. Thanks for your work.

I think we’ll have to talk to your older sister about taking away your notebook computer.
Bohdan. you get the SEVY for having a great attitude. You’re going for it. You’re using what you’ve learnt and trying it out and it’s great to see. Keep it up.
I have to say your personality came right through in that video. Thank you very much.

Hi Vicki and Jay. This is Marcelo. I always enjoy watching your videos.
I learn a lot and I have fun at the same time. And, well, I’m from Chile. I’m…I’m not a student, yeah, I’m not a student. I’m working nowadays redacting (drafting) some reports for a company. And my English goal basically is to have fun and, perhaps, English will help me in a moment for this job or another one. I don’t know. I have to say that I lived in Australia when I was a child, but I have been studying English since some years ago. But…and I’m trying to take my English back, right? So, I guess that that is another of my main goals. OK, well those were your questions. Thank you very much for this great opportunity to talk to you guys. You are really lovely. I always watch every single episode from you both. Ok thank you very much. Bye-bye.

Thank you Marcelo. You are certainly doing a good job getting your English back.
Indeed. One of the things that struck me was how clear your speech was. In fact that’s your SEVY – clarity. And then you mentioned that you’d been in Australia when you were a child, and I thought, oh that’s why. But that’s going to be a great help for listening as you’re learning English.
Thanks Marcelo, great video.
Now before we carry on I just want to mention that for some people, this challenge was extra difficult because for religious reasons or for other personal reasons they didn’t want to appear on camera. But they found a way round it and we’re going to watch some of these videos now.

Hi Vicki and Jay. I’m Farshid and I’m Iranian. I am a student of architecture. I hope to learn English in order to have better communication with people around the world.

I want to give you the linguist SEVY, Farshid.
Why?
Because of the certificate on his book shelf. Did you see?
What did it say?
Pahlavi. It was a language – an ancient Persian language.
And it’s now extinct?
Yes. But although he’s studying architecture, he’s obviously a linguist too.

Hello there Vicki and Jay! This is Steffi and I’m sending you a thousand warm hugs from Erfurt, which is right in the middle of Germany. And with this small video I want to send you a few pictures of where I love to live. Reading my comments you may have noticed that I am quite a chatterbox, and I love to connect with people from all around the world to learn more about their country and their culture and my bucket list is incredibly full with all the spots I want to travel to and that’s why I want to speak proper and fluent English. Congratulations for over 100,000 subscribers Vicki and Jay and thank you so much for being the most creative and astounding English teachers I’ve ever met. Simple English Videos Yay! And this is my hamster, Carla.

Very good Steffi, and it was a pleasure meeting Carla, too.
Steffi sounded exactly as I expected. If you look at the comments at Simple English Videos you’ll see that Steffi is often there contributing and it’s really nice that you’re a chatterbox Steffi. We appreciate it.
So what’s her SEVY.
OK. Ahhh, I don’t know, what can we give her the SEVY for?
For the cutest pet!
I’ll tell you what though. I’d like to give her an intonation SEVY, because her pronunciation was superb.

Hello. Good day to you. My name is Sarah, and I am from Germany. I’ve been studying English for a year teaching most things to myself. English is for me not only a language. For me it is what makes me – me. I love England and English more than anything really. And my goals are to live in England when I’m grown up. I’m a student and I see myself working in connection to the English language. In December, this year, I’ll be passing the exam for the language level ‘C-1’ hopefully. And after this I’d like to continue with the next and final level.

Sarah, if I didn’t know you’re from Germany, I’d have assumed you’re from London because your accent is so good!
For someone who’s self taught, it’s amazing and you get the pronunciation SEVY.
Really good. Thank you very much.
And good luck with your exam. I think you’re going to do really well.

To be or not to be photogenic, that is the question. In the age of selfies I’m afraid I’m not. That’s why I chose a picture of my parent’s kissing before my nickname “Maninima” which is how I call my mom. Yet, when you invited your followers to send a video, I thought I could take this chance to thank you, Vicki and Jay, and other teachers on YouTube. By the way, my name is Simone. I’m Italian, and I fell in love with English when my dad made me listen to his favorite music, spirituals, jazz, Gershwin, and I discovered the Beatles. I began singing those songs and I found I could express my feelings better if I didn’t use my mother tongue. Maybe because I was very shy. I started at university to learn the language more deeply. But soon I had to give up for a series of troubles. My dad got cancer. My vocal cords developed a rare disease. A guy molested me. A car accident ruined my spine, just to name a few. So, thanks a lot Vicki and Jay, Aly from “Papa Teach Me”, Tom from “Eat, Sleep, Dream English”, “Love English” with Leila and Sabrah, and many more for keeping my mind working and for making me smile with your sense of humor and kindness. Love you all.

Thank you Simone. That took a lot of courage and we really appreciate it.
And I appreciated your sharing too, and sharing the names of other great YouTube channels, so more people can find them.
By the way, you had us at Gershwin and the Beatles. We love them. Thanks again Simone.
Congratulations to everyone who took part in this challenge.
You were all amazing.
We can’t thank you enough for sharing your life and goals with us.
We loved meeting you and it’s been very motivating for us.
Yes, we need to make some more videos now.
If you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend.
And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel.
See you next week everyone. Bye-bye.
Bye.
Click here to see some hang out videos with Vicki and Jay.
Click here to see some more Simple English Videos.

second conditional examples

The second conditional in action – English grammar

We use the English second conditional to talk about imaginary, hypothetical or unreal possibilities. In this video we’ll show you how to form the second conditional and when to use it. We look at:

First vs second conditional

First and second conditionals are similar because they’re both about present and future possibilities. The difference is the second conditional is more imaginary. We use it to talk about unlikely or unreal possibilities.

Second conditional examples

You’ll learn how to use the second conditional in conversation with a funny story. We’ll show you lots of examples in action in a story.


Click here to see our lesson on the first conditional
Click here to see our lesson on the zero conditional

The second conditional

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.

Hi I’m Vicki.
And I’m Jay and this video is the third in our series on English conditionals.
We’ve looked at the zero and the first conditional, and now it’s time to look at the second.
And we have another story for you, so you can see it in action.
A funny story! I think the second conditional is my favourite, because it’s about future possibilities.
But so is the first conditional.
Yes, but these possibilities are more imaginary. We just saw an example.
Then let’s see how it works.

If we left at 2.30, Kathy would go crazy.
Nah. She won’t care.

Second conditionals have two parts – two clauses. One is the condition and one is the result. In the condition clause we use ‘if’ with the past tense, and for the result we use the modal verb, would, and then the base form of the verb.
Notice we use ‘would’ in the result clause and not the condition clause. Like other conditionals, we can reverse the order and the meaning stays the same. Just remember to use a comma if the sentence starts with ‘if’.

If we leave at 2.30, we’ll be there for the start.

So Jay used a first conditional here but I used a second. They’re similar, but in the second conditional, we use the past instead of the present. And instead of ‘will’ we use ‘would’.
OK, so when do we use a first conditional and when do we use a second?
It depends on how likely we think something is.
How certain we are that it will happen.
Yeah. First conditionals are more probable and second conditionals are more hypothetical.
I thought Kathy would let us leave at 2.30.
You thought it was possible, so you used a first conditional.
But you didn’t think she would.
No, I thought she’d stop us, so I thought it was improbable – unlikely.
So if we think something is unlikely to happen, we use the second conditional.
Exactly.
Now something else is strange. We were talking about the future here, right?
Yeah.
But you used a past tense.
Yes! This is important. The past tense doesn’t indicate past time here. It indicates a distance from reality. We often use the past tense like this in English.
I think we need some more examples.
Then let’s have the story.
And while you’re watching, see how many second conditionals you can spot.

The second conditional in action in a story

I’ve got so much work to do and my assistant is Jay. You see the problem. But if I fired Jay, I could get someone else. A smart intelligent woman. The interviews are starting now.
Thanks for coming in.
The job sounds very interesting.
Well, I’ve got some questions for you.
Of course.
OK, first one. How long does it take you to reply to a text message?
Not long usually. If you texted me, I’d probably reply in about 5 or 10 minutes.
Wow! That’s much better than Jay. I texted him at ten last night and it took him two hours to respond.
You texted him at ten last night?
Yes. I wanted him to pick up my dry cleaning. In fact, that’s my next question! If I asked you to pick up my clothes from the dry cleaners, would you complain?
Well, it’s great to meet you.
You too.
I have a lot of questions for you, but this one is important for this job: Do you like dogs?
Yes.
Great because I have four rottweilers that I’d like to bring to the office.
But if you brought them to the office, they’d need walking.
Exactly. Thank you for offering. Now, I’m working on my master’s degree at the moment and sometimes it hard for me to get all my homework done.
Well, those degrees can be a lot of work.
So if I asked you to do my homework, would you help me?
So this is the break room where we can make our coffee and tea.
It’s very nice.
Sometimes I’m so busy, I don’t have time to make my tea.
Oh!
And it’s a big health problem for me because I get dehydrated and ill, you know.
Well, if you needed a cup of tea, I guess I could make one for you.
Thank you. I like herbal tea and I like it brewed for 3 minutes and 45 seconds and I’d like one every hour please.
If you were me, who would you choose? They were all good. Hi, it’s Vicki. I was very impressed with you at your interview and I’d like to offer you the job.
Oh, err, thank you but I’ve…. had another offer.
Well, not to worry.
So what do you think?
Oh. I’ve decided I wanted to spend more time with my family.
I’m afraid it’s not a good fit. I’m… allergic to herbal teas.
Oh. What’s that?
It’s your dry cleaning.
Oh.
Would you like a cup of tea?
Oh yes please. I guess he’s not that bad.

How many examples did you spot?
There were seven. Let’s look at them again.

But if I fired Jay, I could get someone else.

This is interesting because instead of ‘would’ you said ‘could’.
It means I would have the ability to get someone else. I’m not saying I would for sure, but it’s a possibility.
Well, thanks for that! So ‘would’ isn’t the only modal verb we can use in the results clause?
Yes, they have slightly different meanings but we can say would, could, may, might, should…
OK, another example.

If you texted me, I’d probably reply in about 5 or 10 minutes.
Wow!

If I texted you, you wouldn’t reply in 10 minutes.
No, I probably wouldn’t. I’m too busy!
Notice how we form negatives. The negative of would is would not – but when we’re speaking we usually use the contraction – would not – wouldn’t
OK, another example.

If I asked you to pick my clothes up from the dry cleaners, would you complain?

We heard a question there.
Yes. Would is a modal verb, so to form the question, we reverse the word order. You would complain. Would you complain?
That’s easy!
Yeah, next example.

Because I have four rottweilers that I’d like to bring to the office.
But if you brought them to the office, they’d need walking.
Exactly! Thank you for offering.

We heard another contraction there. They would – they’d.
Yeah.
Notice how we form contractions with would. I’d… you’d… he’d… she’d… it’d… we’d… they’d…
The problem my students have with these contractions is they confuse ‘I had’ with ‘I would’.
Oh yes. I had – I’d. I would – I’d. It’s the same contraction.
You have to look at the context to work it out.
OK. Another example.

Well, those degrees can be a lot of work.
So if I asked you to do my homework, would you help me?

‘Would you help me?’ is a very common phrase and it’s half of a second conditional.
We can also say ‘Can you help me?’ But ‘Would you help me?’ sounds a little more polite.
It’s because there’s more distance from reality.
I’m not sure if you’ll help me.
And that makes it a little more polite. We heard a similar example.

I get dehydrated and ill, you know.
Well, if you needed a cup of tea, I guess I could make one for you.
Thank you.

We could also say ‘I can make you a cup of tea’. It’s another way to make an offer.
But ‘could’ sounds a little more uncertain.
Yes, a little more tentative and polite.
So that’s why ‘would’ and ‘could’ are useful for making requests and offers.
Yes. OK, we have one more example and this is very interesting.

If you were me, who would you choose?

OK, so I have a question. Is it possible for you to be me?
No, of course not.
But that’s what I’m saying here. We can use the second conditional to imagine impossible things like if I had a million dollars….
If I were the President of the United States…
If I were twenty years younger…
A common phrase we use to give advice is ‘If I were you…’. So ‘if I were you I’d watch all our videos’ or ‘I’d study English every day’. It’s impossible for me to be you, but with the second conditional we can imagine unreal things.
Notice that the grammar is a little strange here. Normally with ‘be’ in the past tense we say I was, you were, he was and so on. But in the second conditional, we say ‘were’ for all the forms of the verb ‘be’.
Why is that?
It’s called the subjunctive, if you want to look it up, but if you get it wrong and say ‘I was’ instead of ‘I were’, it’s no big deal.
We often say that too in conversation.
Yeah. But if you’re taking an exam in English, they’ll often test you on this.
And then you want to say ‘If I were you…’ not ‘If I was you’.
So are we done?
Well, not really because we’re going to look at the third conditional next, but that’s another video.
So make sure you subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss it.
And if you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend.
See you all next week everyone. Bye-bye.
Bye.
Click here to see our lesson on the first conditional
Click here to see our lesson on the zero conditional

quite in British and American English

The trickiest word in English – Quite!

Is the meaning of the adverb quite, very or completely? It looks like a small difference but it can lead to big misunderstandings.
Sometimes quite means the same thing in British and American English, but sometimes it’s used differently.
In this video we show you
– how to use quite to mean completely
– how to use not quite (meaning not completely) to criticize someone gently or say you disagree.
– how quite can mean very in American English, but fairly or pretty in British English
– how you can sometimes tell the meaning of quite by whether it’s used with a gradable or ungradable adjectives.
Finally we have some advice for any American guys who are going on a date with a British girl.
Don’t tell her she’s quite pretty!

Click here to see more videos on British and American English.

 

The adverb quite

Hi everyone. I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American and today we’re looking at a word that’s quite tricky.
No, it’s very tricky.
But that’s what I said!
No you didn’t!
I speak British English and Jay speaks American English and normally, we manage to communicate OK.
But there’s a word that causes us problems. Quite.
It’s such a common word. We both use it a lot.
But it’s the word that’s hardest for us to understand.
Sometimes we use it in the same way, but sometimes we use it differently.
And then we get confused.
Quite.
Quite?
Let’s look at some examples.

Have you finished the artwork yet?
No. I’m not quite ready. I need another five minutes.
Take your time. I’m quite happy to wait.
Do you want to go and get a coffee or something?
No, I’m quite all right thanks. I’ve had quite enough coffee today. That’s not quite correct.
Just go away!
What’s your problem?

Here are some of the things we said. ‘Quite’ is an adverb and it means ‘completely’ in all these examples. It means to the greatest possible degree – 100%. We can use it this way in British and American English
And you heard quite in two negative sentences too, where it means not completely – so almost, but not 100%. Again it can have this meaning in British and American English. We often use quite in the negative like this to criticize someone gently or to say we disagree with them.
So we might say ‘I don’t quite agree’ or ‘That’s not quite right’.
Yes, and we mean ‘I don’t agree 100%.’ or ‘You’re a little wrong’. Quite softens the disagreement.
It works like that in American and British English.
But there’s another way we use ‘quite’ that’s quite different.

So what did you think of my report?
It’s quite good.
Fantastic. I’ll send it to everybody now.
Hang on. It needs some changes.
But you said it was quite good.
Yes, but we need it to be VERY good.
Huh?

There was a misunderstanding there.
Yeah, I thought you liked my report.
Well, I thought it was fairly good or pretty good, but not very good.
But you said it was quite good. If I say that I mean very good. Quite is a forceful word.
It’s not forceful in British English. It just means to some degree.
So let me get this straight. Sometimes when you say ‘quite’ you mean completely, like me.
Yes.
But other times you just mean fairly or pretty.
Yes.
Then how can I tell what you mean?
Well, sometimes you can tell from the kind of adjective we use with quite – whether it’s gradable or ungradable.
We’d better explain that.

Gradable or ungradable

Some English adjectives are gradable, so they can be true to different degrees. For example good is gradable. Something can be very good, or fairly good, or just a little good. But other adjectives are ungradable, for example perfect. We don’t say something is very perfect or fairly perfect or a little perfect. It’s just perfect.
Here are some more examples of ungradable adjectives. Things are either dead or they’re not. People are either married or they’re not. There’s no in-between with these adjectives, so we don’t use them with ‘very’. The meanings of these adjectives already contain the idea of ‘very’.
So here’s what happens in British English. If we use ‘quite’ with an ungradable adjective, we probably mean completely. For example, ‘It’s quite perfect’. It’s 100% perfect. But if we use quite with a gradable adjective, we probably mean ‘fairly’ – so to some extent, but not very. For example, ‘It’s quite nice’ – it’s fairly nice.
So if you say ‘I’m quite tired’, you mean you’re fairly tired.
Yeah, and what about you?
I could mean that, but normally if I say I’m quite tired, I mean I’m very tired.
Pronunciation matters too. If we stress the word ‘quite’ the difference can get more marked.
I’m QUITE tired – that means I’m very very tired
I’m QUITE tired – that means I’m only fairly tired.
There’s another thing you do in British English.
What’s that?
I’ll say something and instead of saying ‘I agree’ you say ‘quite’.
Oh yes. It’s rather formal but to show we agree with someone or to show we’ve understood, we can say ‘quite’ or ‘quite so’. It just means ‘yes’.
It sounds very British.
Quite.
Let’s have a quiz question now.
OK. See if you can answer this everyone, and you Jay. If your American boss says ‘your work is quite good’, what does it mean? Jay?
If my American boss says my work is quite good, I should get a raise. They think my work is very good.
British English is different. If my British boss says my work is quite good, I’d have to ask what I’m doing wrong.
Because it’s only fairly good. Wow!
So the difference in meaning is subtle, but it can be very important.
If you don’t pay attention, you might miss it.
When I came to the US I had to stop and think when people said ‘quite’. ‘Do they mean fairly or do they mean ‘very’? I still have to stop and think sometimes.
And I’ve had to learn the difference too, so I can understand Vicki’s family and friends.
Yeah. Here’s a real example. My British friend was visiting us and meeting Jay for the first time and they were just getting to know one another and talking about their families.
I was telling her about my father and how he spoke six languages and I said ‘He was quite good at languages’.
So my British friend was surprised and she said, ‘Why are you saying that? You said he spoke six languages.’
‘Yeah, he was quite good at languages.’
So my friend was thinking, ‘He’s being derogatory about his father? That’s not nice! If you speak six languages you’re a very good linguist – not just fairly good.
And I was thinking, ‘We’ve only just met. Why is this woman being so argumentative?’ It was like she wanted to pick a fight with me for no reason.
It’s the sort of misunderstanding that can damage relationships.
Yes, it’s dangerous because you might not realise it’s happening.
And one last thing before we stop.
Yeah?
I have some advice for any American guys who are going on a date with a British girl.
What’s that?
Don’t tell her she’s quite pretty. It happened to one of my friends on her first date with an American guy.
What! He told her she was quite pretty?
Yes, he was lucky to get a second date! And that’s it for today everyone.
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See you next Friday. Bye.

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