Modal verbs: How to use may, might and could to talk about past possibilities

Modal verbs: How to use may, might and could to talk about past possibilities

Learn how to use the past possibility modals may, might and could.

This is the second of two videos on 3 useful modal verbs that we use to talk about possibility and certainty in English. The first video was about how we use them in the present and future and you can see it here.

This video is about how we use may have done, might have done and could have done to talk about past possibilities. You’ll learn how to structure sentences with with have and the past participle.

You’ll also learn how the meaning of the phrases may not have and might not have differ from couldn’t have. And best of all you’ll see lots of examples in action in a spooky story and be invited to put them to use and create more examples of your own.

Click here to learn how we use may, might and could to talk about the present and future.
Click here to see more grammar videos.
Click here to learn how to pronounce can and can’t in British and American English.

Past possibility modals

Oh, sit Carter. Good boy.
Do you think this hotel may be haunted?
Might there be a ghost?
What do you think could happen to us?

Welcome back to our second video on three important modal verbs. In our first video we looked at how we them to talk about possibilities in the present and the future. Here’s the link. In this video we’ll show you how we use them to talk about possibilities in the past.
Before we start, I have two questions for you. First one: do these sentences all mean the same thing? Yes, they do! They all mean we think something is possible.
But is there a little difference? Well, ‘may’ is less frequent than ‘might’ and ‘could’ in conversation. And some people think ‘might’ means something is less possible than ‘could’ and ‘may’. But not everyone. Linguists love to argue about it. But for practical purposes, there is no difference. They mean the same thing.
OK, second question. Listen to me saying the first sentence in two different ways.
It could happen.
It COULD happen.
Is there a difference in meaning now?
Yes, there is. If I stress the word ‘could’ it means I think something is less possible, less certain. It’s the same with the other verbs.
It may happen. It MAY happen.
It might happen. It MIGHT happen.
Did you hear the difference? When we stress the modal verb, it means we think something is less possible, less certain.
Good. So now let’s look at possibilities in the past. Let’s check in with Jay and Carter and see what’s happening.

Hi everyone. Good to see you again. We’re still staying in this old hotel and Carter still doesn’t like it, do you boy? Carter didn’t sleep well last night. I’m not sure what was wrong but he may have eaten something that upset his stomach. And I had another bad dream last night. It was the same nightmare but this time there were two little girls. They looked the same – identical. They could have been twins. They were whispering and they both wanted to kill me. I was on the floor on my back and I couldn’t move. They were holding my arms and pulling me across the floor and laughing. It was horrible.
But here’s what’s strange. When I woke up today I found these bruises on my arms. Look! Where did they come from? I might have banged into something yesterday, but if I did, I don’t remember it. Take care everyone. I’ll talk to you later.

Sometimes things happen and we don’t know why, but we speculate and come up with possible reasons. We heard Jay doing that. He wasn’t sure why some things happened, but he had some ideas.

Carter may have eaten something that upset his stomach.
The girls looked identical. They could have been twins.
I might have banged into something yesterday.

Jay didn’t know why Carter couldn’t sleep but he thought perhaps he ate something that upset his stomach.
He didn’t know if the little girls in his nightmare were twins, but he thought it was possible.
And he also thought it was possible that he banged into something and that’s how he got the bruises. He’s not sure.
When we speculate about past possibilities, we say ‘may have’, ‘could have’ and ‘might have’.
Now, what about negative sentences. Because we can also speculate about things that might NOT have happened. Let’s go back to Jay and see how that works.

Hey everyone. We slept better last night, but I think someone might have broken into our room. Before I went to bed I shut the window. But when I woke up it was unlocked and wide open. I may not have locked it last night, but I know it was shut when I went to bed.
And I turned my computer off too. But when I got up it was on. It couldn’t have turned itself on.
And I think someone moved my water. When I go to sleep I always have a glass of water on a table on the left hand side of my bed. But when I woke up this morning, it was on the right hand side. I guess it’s possible that I might not have put it on the left side but it’s odd because I’m left handed.
And if someone broke in, I don’t understand how they didn’t wake us. Carter’s a very light sleeper. The door was locked and they couldn’t have climbed through the window because it’s too small, and this is the fourth floor. I just don’t get it. Have you got any ideas?

So some strange things happened while Jay was asleep. He shut the window before he went to bed but it was open when he woke up.

I may not have locked the window last night but I know it was shut.

So Jay definitely shut the window, but it’s possible he didn’t lock it.
And another strange thing. His glass of water was on the right hand side of his bed, not the left.

I might not have put my water on the left side, but it’s odd.

Odd means peculiar. Normally he puts his water on the left side, but did he do that last night? He’s not certain. He might have put it on the right. He might not have put it on the left.
So if we say ‘might not have’ and ‘may not have’, it means there’s doubt and uncertainty.
Now, what about couldn’t have? Well that’s different.

They couldn’t have climbed in through the window because it’s too small.

Jay thinks someone broke into his room last night. He doesn’t know how, but he’s sure they didn’t get in through the window. There’s no uncertainty there. Another example.

The computer couldn’t have turned itself on.

He doesn’t know why the computer was on, but he’s certain of one thing. The computer didn’t turn itself on. That would be impossible.
So when you’re talking about the past, use ‘couldn’t have’ to talk about impossible things – things that didn’t happen.
And use ‘might have’ and ‘may have’ to talk about things you’re not certain about – possibilities.
Easy huh? And that’s it. Now you know all the important stuff for talking about possibilities with may could and might. Do you want to try using them? Are you ready to put them to use? Then let’s see what’s going on with Jay.

Hey everyone. Just one more night in this hotel and then we’re going home. We can’t wait to leave. Uh oh. It looks like we’ve got an electrical problem here. The lights keep flickering. Carter are you OK? Who’s that? Who’s there? We’re going to kill you.

Oh my. What do you think might have happened to Jay and Carter? Pick a question and tell us what you think. Try to give as many answers as you can using ‘may’, ‘could’ and ‘might’? and write them in the comments. We’re looking forward to reading them.
If you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend. And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel. Bye everyone!

Click here to learn how we use may, might and could to talk about the present and future.
Click here to see more grammar videos.
Click here to learn how to pronounce can and can’t in British and American English.

Modal verbs: How to use may, might and could to talk about possibilities

Modal verbs: How to use may, might and could to talk about possibilities

May, might and could are really useful English modal verbs. We use them in lots of different ways but an important one how we use them to express uncertainty when we’re not sure.

You can use may might and could with the same simple structure if you’re talking about the present or the future. They mean the same thing and you’ll have no problems.

But do you know how to use them in the negative? That’s where it gets tricky. May not and might not don’t mean the same as could not (or couldn’t). Learn an important difference between may not, might not and couldn’t in this video.

This is an English grammar lesson with a twist. We’ll also tell you a story – a creepy story. Get ready to be scared!

Learn about how to use can and may to talk about permission here.
Learn more about can, could and be able to here.
See more grammar lessons here.

How to use may, might and could to talk about possibilities (1)

Hi. I’m Vicki and welcome to the first of two videos about how to use the verbs ‘may’, ‘might’ and ‘could’ to talk about possibilities. We’re also going to tell you a story. A strange and creepy story. You’ll love it.
There are two main ways we use modal verbs in English. One is when we want to try to control the world and what people do. For example, we can use modal verbs to talk about permission. We’ve made another video about that and I’ll put a link here.
And the other way we use modal verbs is to express our attitude and opinions. So for example, if we want to say we’re not certain, we often use these modal verbs. They’re really useful when we want to talk about possibilities.
So permission – possibility. Modal verbs often have more than one meaning. In today’s lesson you’ll learn how we use these three modal verbs to talk about possibilities.
Let’s see them in action.

Oh. Sit Carter. Good boy.
Hello everyone. Jay here. I’m traveling on business this week. This hotel is very old. It might be two hundred years old. Or three hundred? I don’t know but it’s dark and cold…. and there’s a strange smell in this room. It may be the kitchen downstairs. It could be cabbage. I’m not sure. I didn’t want to stay in this hotel but it’s the only place that would take Carter. Such a good boy. I didn’t want to leave him at home.
Anyway, I’m going to stop now and take Carter for a walk. It’s windy tonight and it could rain soon. I hope not because we might get wet. And then after our walkk, we may just go to bed and have an early night. I’ll speak to you all tomorrow.

Did you hear Jay say ‘may’, ‘might’ and ‘could’? He used them all to talk about possibilities, and they express the idea that we’re not certain. We use them when we don’t know something for sure.

This hotel might be two hundred years old. Or three hundred?
It may be the kitchen downstairs.
It could be cabbage. I’m not sure.

Could, may and might mean the same thing here, it doesn’t matter which word you use. They all indicate you’re not certain.
We can use them to talk about the present, and also to talk about the future. The structure is exactly the same.
So how can we tell if someone’s talking about the present or the future? Well, it doesn’t matter normally. We look at the situation and the context and we know. And if it’s important to be clear we can use adverbs or time expressions.

It could rain soon.
After that, I may just go to bed.

So if you’re not sure if something’s true now, or not sure if it will happen in the future, use may, might or could.
Now what about negative sentences? What if we think something might not be true, or we think things might not happen. Let’s hear some examples and see Jay is getting on.

Hello everyone. Well we’re still here but we might not stay in this hotel for long. Last night was terrible. The window in this room was rattling. It was so noisy we couldn’t sleep.
This morning I got up and I slammed the it shut. But it may not work. I think it might rattle again tonight.
I’ve asked the hotel if we can change our room. They’re going to try but they don’t have many rooms so they might not be able to help.
But the worst thing last night was I had a nightmare. I dreamed there was a young girl at the end of my bed and she wanted to kill me. I couldn’t see her very clearly because it was dark and she was hiding he face. But I knew she was evil and I was terrified. I may not be able to sleep tonight.
Carter doesn’t like this hotel either. He’s behaving very strangely. He keeps staring at the door like someone is outside. But when I open it and look, nobody’s there. It’s really weird. Carter may not sleep tonight either.

Poor Jay, and poor Carter. Let’s look at some of the things Jay said. He used the negative form of may and the negative form of might.

We might not stay in this hotel for long.
I’ve slammed the window shut but it may not work.
The hotel might not be able to help.
I may not be able to sleep tonight.
And Carter may not sleep tonight either.

With modal verbs we use ‘not’ to form the negative. Did Jay use contractions here? No. He didn’t say mayn’t of mightn’t. With may and might, say may not or might not.
OK, now what about could? Well, could is different in several ways. Let’s see what Jay said.

It was so noisy we couldn’t sleep.
I couldn’t see her very clearly because it was dark.

Did Jay use a contraction? Yes, we generally say couldn’t. Could not – couldn’t.
But something else is different here and this is important. The meaning is different to may not and might not. Have a look. Is he talking about present and future possibilities here? NO! He’s talking about that past, and things that didn’t happen. They wanted to sleep but it was impossible. He wanted to see the girl but it was too dark.
So here’s the thing. We use may not and might not to talk about things we’re not sure about, but couldn’t means something different. We use it to talk about things that didn’t happen in the past. We know they didn’t happen so there’s no uncertainty. So if you’re not sure and you’re feeling uncertain, don’t use couldn’t. It’s not the same as ‘may not’ and ‘might not.’
So let’s summarise. When you want to talk about possibilities, use could, may and might. They all mean the same thing and we use them all to talk about things that are possibly true now and things that will possibly happen in the future.
If you think things are possibly NOT true or NOT certain, say ‘might not’ or ‘may not’.
Don’t say ‘could not’ or ‘couldn’t’. We use that to talk about impossible things.
Great. Now you know how to use these modal verbs to talk about the present and the future. But what about the past? Come back next week and we’ll show you how to do that. But before we stop, let’s see how Jay and Carter are getting on?

Well as you can see, I couldn’t change our hotel room so Carter and I are still here. Carter’s not happy. He’s not eating much and he seems nervous. The phone rang everal times last night and he went crazy. I don’t know who called. I couldn’t hear very well because Carter was barking. But it sounded like a young girl’s voice. She didn’t say anything but she was laughing. Or could be she was crying. I’m not sure. Do you think this hotel could be haunted?
What do you think? Might it be haunted?

And what might happen to Jay and Carter next week?
Write and tell us in the comments. Please share this video with your friends, and see you all next week for part two of the story. Bye.

Learn about how to use can and may to talk about permission here.
Learn more about can, could and be able to here.
See more grammar lessons here.

5 Things You Shouldn’t Say in English (if you want to be polite)

5 Things You Shouldn’t Say in English (if you want to be polite)

Translation is dangerous! Sometimes words and phrases that work in one culture are rude in English.
This video is about cultural differences and how to be polite in English. We look at 5 things you shouldn’t say in English unless you want to be rude or get a black eye.

  • Grandma and grandad/granddad
    Aunt and aunty
    How old are you?
    How much do you earn?
    You’re looking fat.

We talk about cultural differences that can cause problems if you translate and also the importance of giving people the benefit of the doubt if you want to be polite.

Click here to see more videos on everyday English
Click here to learn how to use the phrase ‘of course’ politely

Things you shouldn’t say in English

Are you saying things you shouldn’t in English? We need to talk.
Hi, I’m Vicki
And I’m Jay.
And this video’s about things you SHOULDN’T say in English.
So it’s about what NOT to say.
That’s right. There are some things that might work in one language and one culture, but when you translate them into English they become rude.
Give us an example.
Grandma.
Grandma?
Yeah, and Grandad. Like that comment we had on one of our YouTube videos.
Right. I know the one you mean. It was funny.
Yeah. Let me explain. We love getting comments on our videos. Usually people say really nice things and thank you all for that.
It’s very motivating for us. But we had a funny comment a while ago. Someone wrote and they said ‘I just love your video, Grandma.’
Technically speaking they were correct. I am a grandma. And I love being a grandma. But grandma also has another meaning in English. We use it informally as an insult to talk about people we don’t know.
So it’s a rude thing to say.
Exactly. An insult is when you say something that’s rude in order to offend someone or to upset them.
Grandma can imply that someone is very old and feeble
Feeble means weak and ineffective. We might call someone grandma when we think they’re mentally or physically slow.
Grandad or grandpa is similar. It’s also used as an insult.
So if an old person is taking too long to do something we might say ‘Oh hurry up grandma.’ Or ‘Get out the way Grandma.’
So what did you think when you read that comment?
I wasn’t sure what to think. Obviously we are a little old for YouTubers, but still… Then I thought maybe it’s just an English mistake.
So not an insult?
Yeah.
So what did you say to them?
I just wrote ‘thank you’.
You didn’t ask them what they meant?
No. Perhaps I should have asked. I wanted to know what they meant, but then I thought, don’t feed the trolls.
‘Don’t feed the trolls’. This is a useful expression. There are trolls on the internet.
Trolls are people who make rude or nasty comments because they want to get an emotional reaction.
Don’t feed the trolls means don’t respond to them.
Yes. But in this case I didn’t know if the comment came from an internet troll or not. I probably should have asked.
But then another viewer did ask.
Yes, they came to my defence. That was nice. They said, hey, why are you calling her grandma? Be more polite. And then first viewer wrote back and explained. In their culture, for them, Grandma was a term of respect and admiration.
So they were trying to be respectful?
Yes, maybe grandma means experienced and wise. But in some cultures you can use grandma and grandpa to show respect to people you don’t know.
So there was a happy ending to this story.
A very happy ending. It’s good to give people the benefit of the doubt.
That’s another useful phrase – the benefit of the doubt.
Yeah. If you think someone might be doing something bad, but you’re not sure, you can decide, hey, I don’t know so I am going to presume you’re not being bad and you’re being nice.
You give them the benefit of the doubt.
Yes, and if you want to be safe, don’t call people grandad or grandma in English.
Unless they’re YOUR grandma or grandpa. Then it’s OK.
Yes, or unless you want a black eye.

Get out of the way, grandma.

A black eye is a dark area of skin around your eye that you get if someone hits you.
Now there’s another term like grandma, that’s dangerous in English.
What’s that?
Aunt or Aunty. Be careful how you use these words.
I pronounce them Aunt or Aunty. In English an aunt is a family member – it’s the sister of your mother or father.
Yes, but there are cultures where it has another use and people call lots of older women aunt. It’s a term of respect again and also affection.
Usually we only call blood relatives aunt in English.
Yes, there might be a very close family friend that children call aunty, though it’s not usual in British English.
It’s unusual in American English too.
But here’s the thing. Sometimes people I hardly know contact me on the internet and they write Dear Aunt or Dear aunty.
That sounds very weird in English. Why do they do that?
I think they’re translating and trying to signal affection, but it doesn’t work
It sounds too familiar.
Yeah. It suggests we have a personal connection that we don’t have so it’s uncomfortable.
OK, so aunty is another thing you shouldn’t say in English.
Yes. Don’t use it. And I have some more.
Oh tell us.
Well, sometimes people ask us questions that don’t work in English because they’re too intrusive and too direct.
Can you give us some examples.
OK. ‘How old are you?’ is one, and another one is ‘How much do you earn?’
Wow, they’re very intrusive questions….. much too direct. People really ask these questions?
Yes. In some cultures you might ask them to get to know someone, so they’re more friendly then because they show you’re interested in them.
And they’re not rude?
Well no because you expect vague answers. Vague means not clear, not detailed.
But they just don’t work in English. They’re really rude.
Yes, they’re way too personal. Don’t ask them. Don’t go there.
‘Don’t go there’ means don’t bring up that subject of conversation. You’ll get a very bad reaction if you do.
Or a black eye!
Any more questions?
No, but I’ve got one more thing you shouldn’t say in English.
What’s that?
This happened to a friend of mine. He was travelling in China and he met someone he hadn’t seen for a while and they greeted him with ‘You’re looking fat’.
What?!
He was horrified, really shocked.
Well of course. We all want to look slim, like me. Why did they say that?
It was a direct translation that didn’t work. I think they meant to say you’re looking healthy and prosperous.
So they meant to say ‘You look well’ or ‘You look healthy’.
Exactly. We’d say something like ‘You look great. Jay, you’re looking good.
Thanks, of course I do. So the important lesson here is to be careful how you translate.
Yes. And also remember that when we’re communicating with people from other cultures, these translation mistakes happen so we have to give people the benefit of the doubt.
That sounds like great advice. What do you think?
Perhaps you know more things that don’t translate well into English from your language. Write and tell us in the comments if you do.
And if you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and see you next week everyone. Bye.
Bye-bye.

Click here to see more videos on everyday English
Click here to learn how to use the phrase ‘of course’ politely

B2 First Speaking Test – Parts 3 & 4 + useful phrases

B2 First Speaking Test – Parts 3 & 4 + useful phrases

The B2 First Speaking test (FCE) has four parts and in this video we look at the last half of the test.
In FCE speaking part 3, the examiner gives the candidates a task to perform and they need to interact with one another. In part 4, the topic stays the same, but the candidates interact with the examiner and answer questions.
Watch this video to see what happens in these two parts of the FCE test. We’ll give you tips on what to do (and what NOT to do), along with useful phrases to help you interact and get a good mark.

Click here to see our first video about the B2 First Speaking test.
Click here to see our second video and learn about part one.
Click here to see our third video and learn about part two.

FCE speaking Part 3 and FCE speaking Part 4

In parts three and four of the B2 First speaking test, you’re going to show you can share ideas, give opinions and interact in English.
Interaction is really important in these parts of the exam, and we’re going to show you how to do it.
Hello everyone. I’m Craig.
And I’m Vicki and this is the fourth and final video in a series about the B2 First speaking test.
Formerly known as the Cambridge First Certificate exam in English or FCE.
We’ve put links below so you can see other videos in this series.
And today we’re looking at parts three and four of the exam.
They’re connected because they’re both on the same topic.
In part three you’ll have a question to discuss with your partner and some ideas to help you. And in Part four you’ll answer some questions from the examiner.
It all starts with a task. The examiner will give you a question to discuss.

Now you’re going to talk about something together. Here are some inventions that are important in everyday life and there’s a question for you to discuss. First you have some time to look at the task.

Let’s look at the task now and while you do, think of some vocabulary you could use to talk about the question.
And also think about what questions you could ask your partner.

Now you have about two minutes to say why these inventions are important in our everyday lives.
Well, refrigerators are the most important. I keep a lot of beer in mine. It’s a very big American refrigerator. It makes ice as well which is really nice in the summer when it’s hot. It’s awesome.
Speak together.
I agree that refrigerators are important because they stop food going bad.

The examiner wants to see interaction with the other candidate here so make sure you discuss the question with your partner.
Talking to the examiner is a common mistake. Remember to ask your partner questions and interact.

But what do you think about the internet? Most people use it every day.
I use my refrigerator every day.
Well yes, we all do.
I don’t like warm beer.

Another mistake candidates sometimes make is they focus on one idea and don’t talk about the others. For example, Jay kept talking about refrigerators.
You don’t have to discuss all the ideas, but try to move the conversation forward.

Let’s discuss a different idea now. What are your thoughts on mobile phones?
I don’t have one.
Yes, but why are phones important in most people’s everyday lives? I think it’s because they’re easy to carry around wherever we go and they’re useful in emergencies. Do you agree?
I don’t have one.
How about moving on to washing machines? They save time and work of course. I think they’re very important. What about you?
I don’t think so.

Jay disagreed here and that’s fine. It’s OK to agree or disagree with your partner but he needs to give reasons.
Yes. Jay wouldn’t get a good mark because he’s still talking to the examiner, he’s not asking for his partner’s opinions, and also, he’s not giving reasons.
It means his answers are too short, and that’s a problem.
He needs to discuss with a partner for about two minutes.
That’s quite a while.
Yes, you need to keep speaking until the examiner tells you to stop. Let’s look at some language that can help you.
You’ll need to state opinions and give reasons

I think refrigerators are important because they stop food from going bad.
I don’t think microwave ovens are important because lots of people manage without them.

You need to find out if your partner agrees or not.

Do you agree?
What about you?
How about you?

And you’ll need to move from one idea to another.

What do you think about the internet?
What are your thoughts on cell phones?
How about moving on to washing machines?
Let’s discuss a different one now.

After you’ve spoken for two minutes the examiner will stop you and ask you to discuss another question.

Now you have about a minute to decide which two inventions you think it would be most difficult to live without.
Refrigerators. Like I said, I don’t like warm beer.
Well, the refrigerators could be one invention, but we have to choose two. What do you think about washing machines?

So now the task now is to come to decision. They must try to decide on the top two inventions.
Be careful because if you decide too early, you’ll have nothing to discuss and you need to keep talking for about a minute.
You don’t have to reach a decision. You just have to try. And keep talking until the examiner stops you.
Let’s move on now to part four. This is the final part where the examiner will ask you questions.
And they’ll be questions about the topic you just discussed in part three. Let’s see an example.

Vicki, what do you think is the most important invention for your family?
Mmm. Perhaps the internet because we use it to keep in touch. We communicate most days on Skype.
Thank you. Jay, what about you?
What about me what?

Pay attention and don’t do what Jay did here.
It’s important to listen to the examiner’s questions and your partner’s answers because the examiner may ask you to comment.
They might say ‘And you? or ‘What about you?’ or What do you think?’ and you need to be ready to answer.

Jay, what about you?
What about me what?
What do you think is the most important invention for your family?
Oh, the refrigerator. But not the cell phone. We lost all our family photos when put my phone in the washing machine. That’s why I don’t have one now. We’ll never see pictures of Great Aunt Suzy again.

Jay’s answer was actually pretty good there.
Yes, he gave reasons and his sentences were longer and more connected.
Remember, the examiners don’t mark your thoughts and ideas. They only mark the quality of your English.
Let’s look at some more questions.

Vicki do you think mobile phones are becoming too popular these days?
Maybe. Because when I try to talk to people face to face, sometimes they don’t look at me. They look down at their phone.
Jay, what’s the most exciting technological development at the moment?
Sorry. Could you repeat that please?
Yes, what’s the most exciting technological development at the moment?
Oh, hearing aid technologies.

So if you don’t understand, you can ask the examiner to repeat the question.
You can say ‘Could you repeat that, please? Or ‘Could you say that again?’ Notice we say ‘that’ in these questions.
So what can you do if your partner talks too much, or if they don’t talk enough?
If they talk too much, you’re going to have to interrupt. And you want to do it politely if you can.
And if they’re not speaking enough, ask them questions. Remember these parts of the exam are all about interaction.
And don’t worry about losing marks because of your partner. You will be marked separately.
So the examiner doesn’t compare you with your partner and you get separate marks.
And that’s it! Now you know what to do in parts 3 and 4 or of the exam.
And in all the parts of the speaking exam if you watch our other videos.
So good luck if you’re taking the exam.
We’d love to know how you get on, so please write and tell us in the comments.
Bye-bye everyone.
Bye-bye everyone.

Click here to see our first video about the B2 First Speaking test.
Click here to see our second video and learn about part one.
Click here to see our third video and learn about part two.

More words that are hard to pronounce in British and American English

More words that are hard to pronounce in British and American English

Here are eight words you’ve told us you find hard to pronounce in English.

Watch some English learners pronounce them and learn how we say them in British and American English. It’s a great way to improve pronunciation.

You’ll learn how we say: foreigner, athlete, climb, indict, dangerous, extraordinary, analysis, to analyze, and lure. You’ll also get some practice with shifting words stress and tips on how to pronounce long words by backchaining.

Click here to see videos on more words that are hard to pronounce.
Click here to see some of our grammar videos.
Click here to learn more about British and American English.

Words that are hard to pronounce

Are you ready to practice your English pronunciation?
We’re back with some difficult words to pronounce.
Tricky ones.
We’re going to show you how we say them in American English.
And British English!
Hi, I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
And here’s how this works. Our viewers have sent us suggestions for words that are hard to pronounce.
Thank you everyone who sent us ideas.
Yeah. They were great and we’ve asked some English learners to try to say them.
We’ll show you how they said them and then how we say them.
So, let’s get going. What’s the first one?

Forei…
For… Foreigner.

This word’s tricky because that g in the middle is a silent letter.

Foreigner. Yes, I’m a foreigner. Me too. I’m from Britain.

Ha! She got it right.
Yes, the spelling is confusing here.
Here’s how we say it.
Foreigner.
Foreigner.
There’s a LITTLE difference in how we both say this word.
Really? What’s that?
The first vowel sound. In British English, I say ‘o’ but you say ‘a’. See if you can hear it.
Foreigner.
Foreigner.
We’ve made another video about that sound, haven’t we?
Yes. I’ll put a link here. Try saying it with our learners.
Foreigner.
Foreigner.
Foreigner.
Foreigner.
OK, what’s next?
Let’s see.

Athlete.
Ath… late?

Ha! So what’s the final vowel sound here?
Listen to how we say it.
Athlete.
Athlete.
So it’s an eee sound.
And the stress is on the first syllable. ATHlete.
An athlete is someone who competes in sports, or someone who’s good at sports, like Serena Williams or Cristiano Ronaldo.
Or like me. I’m a great athlete.
Really?
Yeah! I’m very good at finger wrestling.
The other tricky thing about this word is you need a th sound. Ath th Athlete. Say it with our learners.
Athlete.
Athlete.
Let’s look at another one.
OK.

Climb.
Climb.

Oh, they’re both wrong! OK, the first thing is the b is silent. It’s climb, not climbe.
Yeah, and the vowel sound is eye.
Let’s hear some more learners.

Climb.
Climb.
Climb.
Climb.

They were very good.
Say it with us.
Climb.
Climb.
Have you ever climbed a mountain Jay?
No, but yesterday I had to climb over the dog to get into bed.
OK, can we have another one?
This one’s hard.

Indict.
Indict.
Indict.

Wow it is hard – they’re all wrong!
Indict… Indict?
Indict.
He got it. He did well. Listen to how we say it.
Indict.
Indict.
So the letter c is silent.
I hear this word a lot in the US. What does it mean?
It’s a verb and it means to officially charge someone with a crime.
We often hear news stories about people being indicted or getting indicted – so being charged with a crime.
Don’t you say indict in British English?
We can, but it’s more common in American English. Say it with us.
Indict.
Indict.
Let’s have something easier now.
OK.

Dangerous.
Dangerous.

Oh nearly. But the first vowel sound is ay.
Like in the word day.
Dangerous.
Dangerous.
What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done, Jay?
Climbing over the dog to get into bed.
Say it with our learners.

Dangerous.
Dangerous.
Dangerous.

OK, next we have a long one.
Great.

Extraordinary.
Extraordinary.
Extra… extraordinary.

They’re nearly right.
Yes, I’d understand them all
The thing is we write extra, but we don’t say the ‘a’ at the end. We go straight on to ‘or’.
Extraordinary.
Extraordinary.
This is an extraordinary word.
Yes, because its pronunciation is unexpected and surprising!
So how many syllables does it have?
Ex-traor-din-ar-y – five! And in British English, it’s interesting because sometimes we say it with four syllables.
Really?
Yeah, extraordinary. Extra-or-din-ary – four.
Extraordinary.
Here’s a useful tip for saying long words like this. It’s called back chaining. You start at the back of the word and work forward. Say it with me.
ry – dinary – ordinary – extraordinary.
Let’s try it with five syllables now.
ry – nary – dinary – ordinary – extraordinary.
OK, what’s next?
It’s a very useful word.

Analysis. Analysis.
Anal… analysis.
Analysis.
Analysis.
Analyisis.
Anlaysis. Oh. Analysis.
Anal. Sis.

It’s a hard one.
Yeah. Lots of my students have problems with this word.
Analysis.
Analysis.
So the stress is on the second syllable. NAL. aNALysis.
But some of our learners got it right.

Analysis.
Analysis.
Analysis.
Analysis.
Analysis.

They did well.
So what does analysis mean?
Oh, an analysis is an examination of something – a study to try to understand it better.
We might do data analysis or statistical analysis – or psychoanalysis
And if you’re ill they might send your blood samples to a laBORatory for analysis.
She means a LABoratory.
Now analysis is a noun, but the verb is ‘to analyse’. And that’s tricky because then the stress is on the first syllable.
To analyse – an analysis.
To analyse – an analysis.
Did you hear the stress move?
It shifted from the first to the second syllable.
Say the words with us.
To analyse – an analysis.
To analyse – an analysis.
Let’s do one more.
OK.

Lure.
Lure.

That was close but the vowel sound is a little different.
We have some more.

Lure.
Lure.
Lure.
Lure, lure? Lure.
You did well.

They were good! We pronounce this word in different ways.
But what does it mean?
When we lure someone, we trick them somehow.
Yes, we persuade them to do something by offering them a reward.
We pronounce this word a little differently in British and American English.
Lure.
Lure or lure.
So you can say this two ways in British English?
Yes, we can say lure but we often put a little j sound in there. Lure.
Lure or lure.
Say it the American way. Lure – it’s easier!
That’s just your opinion. You can choose how you want to say it.
Lure.
Lure or lure.
We must say thank you to all the learners for allowing us to video them.
Yes, they were all terrific.
It was really nice of them to stop what they were doing to talk to us.
And they were all such good fun.
If you enjoyed this video please share it with a friend.
If you have ideas for more words that are hard to pronounce, write and tell us in the comments. Perhaps we can make another video about them.
And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel.
Bye-bye everyone.
Bye.

Click here to see videos on more words that are hard to pronounce.
Click here to see some of our grammar videos.
Click here to learn more about British and American English.

B2 First Speaking Test (FCE) Speaking Part 2 – 3 steps to follow

B2 First Speaking Test (FCE) Speaking Part 2 – 3 steps to follow

This is our third video about the B2 first speaking test (formerly called the FCE speaking test) where we explain how to handle the picture questions.
In FCE speaking part 2, the examiner gives each candidate two pictures and a question to discuss. We demonstrate how to structure your talk and also, how NOT to structure it! We show you three simple steps you can follow to help you  keep talking and get a good mark in this part of the speaking exam.

Click here to see an overview of the B2 First Speaking Test
Click here to find out about Part one of the FCE Speaking Test

FCE Speaking Part 2

In part two of the B2 First speaking test, you’re going to compare two pictures.
And we’re going to show you how to get a great mark.
Hi everyone. I’m Craig.
And I’m Vicki and this is the third in a series of videos about the B2 First speaking test.
Formerly known and Cambridge First Certificate exam in English or FCE.
We’ll put links below so you can see other videos in this series.
Today we’re looking at part two of the test, where you speak about two photographs.
This part lasts four minutes. Let’s jump straight in and see it in action.

In this part of the test, I’m going to give each of you two photographs. I’d like you to talk about your photographs on your own for about a minute, and also to answer a question about your partner’s photographs. Jay, it’s your turn first. Here are your photographs. They show people who are working. I’d like you to compare the photographs, Jay, and say which job you think is the most difficult. All right?
In this picture I can see two fire fighters and a fire. And in this picture there’s a nurse and a baby. There’s a fire. The fire’s big. It’s orange. I think the fire is hot. There’s some water in the picture. There is a baby and a nurse. The baby is small. I think it’s a hospital because she is a nurse. Oh and she has hands.
Thank you, Jay. Vicki, which job would you prefer to do?
It’s hard to say. I’d like both jobs because you can help people and even save lives. But the firefighter’s job looks a little more exciting.
Thank you. Can I have the booklet please?

So what did you think of Jay’s answer?
I thought it was terrible. He used very simple basic language and he didn’t compare the pictures. He also stopped speaking before the end of the minute. He did everything wrong.
He wouldn’t score a high mark.
And did you notice that the examiner asked me a question after Jay spoke? So be ready to answer a question briefly about your partner’s photos.
OK, let’s see how Vicki does.

Now Vicki, here are your photographs. They show people shopping in different places. I’d like you to compare the photographs, Vicki, and say which experience would be the most enjoyable. All right?
Yes. The bottom photo shows an outdoor market and the top photo shows a shopping centre or mall. They show very different shopping experiences because one is outdoors the other is indoors. I think they could both be enjoyable places to shop, but the prices might be better in the outdoor market. Perhaps that’s why it’s more crowded.
The mall looks like a more peaceful shopping experience. They could be playing music there. I’d prefer to shop in the shopping centre if it’s raining and the outdoor market if it’s sunny. One thing I don’t like about the shopping malls is the shops are all the same. I think there will be more variety in the market. This outdoor market reminds me of a street market that I visited when I went on holiday to the Philippines.
Thank you, Vicki. Jay, do like you shopping?
No. I don’t have any money.
Thank you. Can I have the booklet please?

It’s hard to speak for a minute on your own, so how did Vicki do it? She began by saying what she could see in the photographs, and saying how they’re similar and different.

The bottom photo shows an outdoor market and the top photo shows a shopping centre or mall. They show very different shopping experiences because one is outdoors the other is indoors.

So describing and comparing didn’t take long. Just spend 10 to 15 seconds on this. You want to move on after that and answer the question.

I think they could both be enjoyable places to shop, but the prices might be better in the outdoor market. Perhaps that’s why it’s more crowded.

So there Vicki answered the question. You can speculate like Vicki and say things like:
Perhaps…
They could be…
It might be…
It seems to me that…
It looks like…

And then Vicki still had time left, so what did she do?

I’d prefer to shop in the shopping centre if it’s raining and the outdoor market if it’s sunny. One thing I don’t like about the shopping malls is the shops are all the same. I think there will be more variety in the market.

She personalised the photos. She gave us a personal opinion about the topic and also told us about an experience she’d had.

This outdoor market reminds me of a street market that I visited when I went on holiday to the Philippines.

So how can you practice this? Try it yourself. Look at the pictures and talk for one minute. You need a stop watch and a recording device so you can listen back to what you said. Remember to follow these three steps:
Say what you see and compare the photos quickly. How are they different and how are they the same?
Answer the question above the photos. This is REALLY important.
If you still have time, personalise. Give your opinion. Say if the pictures remind you of things you’ve experienced.
If you stop speaking before the end of the sixty seconds, there may just be silence. So try to keep speaking until the examiner stops you.
And that’s it for part two, but before you go, make sure you’re subscribed to our channel so you don’t miss parts three and four.
And share this video with a friend if you’ve enjoyed it.
Click here to see an overview of the B2 First Speaking Test
Click here to find out about Part one of the FCE Speaking Test

FCE Speaking Part 1 (B2 First Exam) + Practice questions

FCE Speaking Part 1 (B2 First Exam) + Practice questions

This is the second of four videos about the speaking test of the FCE exam (now called the B2 First exam).
FCE speaking part 1 is a Q&A – a question and answer session with the examiner. To get a good mark, candidates need to avoid one word responses and extend their answers.

In this video we show you some different ways you can make your answers longer to get a good mark, and we also give you some typical FCE speaking questions that you can use to practice with.

Click here to see an overview of the FCE speaking exam (also known as the B2 First exam)

FCE exam – FCE speaking part 1

What do you need to know about the B2 First speaking test, and what do you need to do in the exam to get a good mark?
In this series of videos we’re going to show you what to do and what not to do to get a good mark.
I’m Vicki.
And I’m Craig. And we’re going to talk about Part one of the exam in this video.
Part one lasts two minutes and it’s a question and answer section.
Let’s jump straight in.

Well, first of all we’d like to know something about you. Vicki. Do you like cooking?
Oh yes, I love it. I like trying new recipes that I find on the internet and I’m interested in Chinese food. I made some dumplings last week and they came out great.
Thank you, thank you, Vicki. Jay. Do you often use the internet?
No.
Why not?
Because no one ever answers my emails.
Thank you Jay. Vicki. Do you like going to parties?
I do and I love having parties too. We often invite friends over and then sometimes we play party games. We had one last week …
Thank, thank you Vicki. Jay. What did you do on your last birthday?
Hmmm. Oh, the laundry.
Why?
Because my clothes were dirty.
Thank you.

Who do you think gave the best answers, Jay or Vicki?
I hope you said Vicki!
Vicki’s answers were better because she gave long answers,
I didn’t just say ‘yes’, ‘no’ or one word. I extended my answer and made it longer. Remember the examiners don’t know your level of English. You have to show it to them.
But how can you extend your answers? A lot of students find this hard so here are three ideas to help. First one: give an example.

Vicki, do you like cooking?
I love cooking. For example I made some Chinese dumplings last week.

A second idea. Give a reason and say why.

Jay, what did you do on your last birthday?
Nothing much. I don’t like birthdays because they remind me of my age.

And a third idea, use ‘but’ and ‘although’ to contrast one idea with another.

Do you like cooking, Vicki?
Yes. I like cooking sometimes but not every day.
Thank you. Jay, tell me about your best friend.
Oh, I don’t have a best friend. Although I have a dog. He has bad breath.

Jay’s answer was better there. His ideas were strange, but that doesn’t matter. He extended his answer.
And it doesn’t matter if your answer is true or not. The important thing is to speak.
The examiners mark the quality of your English, not the quality of your ideas.
OK. Now how can you prepare for Part one when you don’t know what questions the examiner will ask?
We’re going to help you. We’ll give you some examples of topics you can expect and you can use these example questions to practice.
You’ll need to listen, pause the video and give your answers. Don’t forget to extend your answers, so make them longer.

Do you prefer to study alone or with friends?
Would you prefer to work for a big company or a small company?
What do you enjoy doing with your friends?
Tell us about your family home.
Do you enjoy playing computer games in your free time?
Is there a sport of hobby you enjoy doing?
Do you enjoy going to the cinema?
Do you prefer paper books or digital books?
What kind of music do you enjoy?
Do you enjoy going to the theatre?
Which part of the day do you enjoy most?
What do you usually do at weekends?
Did you go anywhere interesting last weekend?
Do you have any plans for the summer?
Are you going to go on holiday this year?
Do you enjoy long journeys?

One more thing before we stop. Did you notice the tenses in those questions? A lot were asking about the present but some were about the past and some were about the future.
This means that when you answer, you have to be careful to use the right tense. And sometimes the questions might be conditionals too. For example:

Vicki, which country would you most like to visit in the future?
Oh, Egypt. I’ve always wanted to go to Egypt to see the pyramids.
Thank you. Jay, if you could learn a new skill, what would you choose to do?
I’d like to learn morse code.
Why?
I’d like to communicate with aliens.

So you’ve got to listen hard to the questions and then use the right tense in your reply.
Great so that’s Part one of the speaking exam.
Make sure you’re subscribed to this channel so you don’t miss the video on Part two.
And share this video with a friend if you’ve enjoyed it.

Click here to see an overview of the FCE speaking exam (also known as the B2 First exam)

The FCE (B2 First) Speaking Test – Things you need to know

The FCE (B2 First) Speaking Test – Things you need to know

This is the first of four videos about the B2 First speaking exam. (B2 First is often known by its former name, FCE or Cambridge First Certificate.)
When we ask our students what makes them most nervous about the exam, they often say FCE speaking, so that’s what this series is all about.
In this first video we provide an overview of the B2 First speaking exam, showing you how it works and the criteria you’ll be marked on. In our later videos we’ll go through the four parts of the exam in detail, demonstrating what to do and what NOT to do and providing tips and practice activities for each part.

Click here to see our grammar videos.
Click here to listen to Craig’s podcasts for Spanish speakers.

The B2 First Speaking Test (also known as the FCE Speaking Test)

The B2 First or FCE exam has four papers.
When we ask our students which one they’re most nervous about they often say the speaking test.
So if you feel nervous too, you’re not alone.
And we can help you. We’re going to give you the information you need to pass and get a good mark.
Hello everyone. I’m Vicki.
And I’m Craig,
And this is the first of four videos about the speaking test for the FCE exam, now called the B2 First.
We’re going to show you what happens, help you practice and give you tips so you can get a good mark.
In this first video we’ll tell you some general things about the speaking test. But let’s see how much you know already.
We have some questions for you. First one: how long does the test last?
The answer is 14 minutes.
Or 20. You take the exam with a partner and then it’s 14 minutes, but sometimes you’ll have two partners and then it’s 20 minutes.
It may sound like a long time, but after their exam, most students say the time went really quickly.
OK, one more question. How many examiners will there be in the room?
There will be two. Let’s see what happens at the start of an exam.

Good afternoon.
Good afternoon.
My name’s Craig. This is my colleague Simone. And your names are?
I’m Vicki.
Hello.
And I’m Jay.
Thank you.
Can I have your mark sheets please?
Here you are.
Thank you. Well, first of all we’d like to know something about you. Vicki, do you like cooking?

And that’s how the exam begins.
So there are two examiners, but you’ll only talk to one of them. The other one will be listening.
Now that’s important because it means you need to speak up.
Yes, sometimes students speak too softly and then the other examiner can’t hear them.
Don’t make that mistake. Speak up! OK. Next question. How will the examiners mark you?
They’ll be looking at four things so let’s go through them one by one.
They’ll be listening for the words you use. Can you use a wide range of words and different grammar structures correctly? If so you’ll score a high mark.
And they’ll be listening to whether you can connect your ideas in a way that’s easy to understand. Can you explain your thoughts logically.
What’s your pronunciation like. Is it clear and easy to understand? Having an accent is fine, as long as your pronunciation is easy to understand.
And finally, how well can you interact with other people? Can you keep conversations going and respond without hesitating a lot?
And that’s it. Those are the four criteria the examiners use to mark you.
Great, so the next thing you need to know is the structure of the test. It has four different parts.
Part one is a Q and A – question and answer. The examiner will ask you questions that you’ll answer.
Part two is a picture question where you’ll compare and talk about two pictures.
In Part three, you’ll do a task with your partner and make a decision about something.
And in Part four, you’ll answer some questions from your examiner.
So every part is different and in this series of videos we’re going to go through them one by one. We’ll explain what you need to do, and some of the things you shouldn’t do.
And we’ll give you some tips and practice activities for each part.
Well prepared candidates do best in this exam, so it’s great that you’ve found us. Stay tuned for our next videos and don’t forget to subscribe to this channel.
And if you like these videos, why not share them with a friend?
Bye now.
Bye.
Click here to see our grammar videos.
Click here to listen to Craig’s podcasts for Spanish speakers.

The Present Perfect Tense in British and American English

The Present Perfect Tense in British and American English

There aren’t many British and American grammar differences but a notable one is how we use the present perfect and simple past.
In this video we’re joined by Jennifer ESL of English with Jennifer and together we explore how we use the words just, yet and already on each side of the Atlantic.
You’ll learn how to use the present perfect to talk about recent actions and give news and you’ll also learn about some interesting differences in how we use the present perfect and simple past tense in the UK and US.
Click here to learn about lots more British and American differences.
Click here to see more grammar videos.

British and American grammar differences – present perfect vs. simple past

Hello everyone. I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
And today we’re looking at the present perfect and how we use it a little differently.
And we’ve got some help.
Yes. Our good friend Jennifer from English with Jennifer is going to join us.
Jennifer’s American, like me.
And she knows lots about the way Americans use this verb tense so this is going to be really useful.
And fun!
The first thing to know is British and American English speakers both use the present perfect in very similar ways. Americans just use it a little less often.
In this video we’re going to look at some situations where this frequency difference is most noticeable.

I’ve lost twenty dollars.
Oh that’s funny, I’ve just found twenty dollars.
Well then it’s mine.
What was the serial number?
What?

In American and British English, we often use the present perfect to talk about past actions that have relevance in the present. So there’s an important connection between the past and the present.

I’ve lost twenty dollars.
I’ve found twenty dollars.

These past actions have effects in the present. That’s why Jay and Vicki both use the present perfect here.
Sometimes past actions are very important in the present because they happened very recently.

OK then. Bye. Oh. Your mother’s just called.
Oh what did she want?
She says you never call her.

‘Just’ indicates that Jay’s mother called very recently.
We can use ‘just’ with the present perfect in American and British English, but there’s another possibility.

Hello.
Hi Jay, did you just call me?
Ah sorry, I just sat on my phone and it dialed your number.
Not to worry. Bye.
Bye-bye.

In American and British English, we can also use ‘just’ with the simple past to talk about recent events. So what’s the difference about the way American and British people use ‘just’?
When we’re giving news in British English we generally use the present perfect.

Oh, your mother’s just called.
Oh, what did she want?

When we’re giving news in American English, we often use the simple past.

Your sister just called.
Oh really? What did she want?

So both these sentences are possible in both varieties.
It’s just that we use the present perfect more frequently in British English.

Thirty-two, ninety, sixteen, fifty-one, eleven and the bonus ball, forty-eight.
I just won the lottery!
Really?
Yeah.
Oh. I think that’s my ticket. I’ve just won the lottery!

OK, so that’s how we use ‘just’. Let’s look at how we use the present perfect with ‘yet’ and ‘already’.

Oh hi.
Have you eaten yet?
Err, yes. I’ve already eaten.
OK. I’ll make something for myself.

The words ‘yet’ and ‘already’ indicate a time up to now or until now. That relation to the present time means we commonly use them with the present perfect. That’s true in both British and American English.
In American English, especially spoken English, you’ll often hear us use these words with the simple past, too.

I’m going outside to practice soccer.
Wait a sec. Did you do your homework yet?
Yeah, I already did it.
OK.

In British English, these sentences would be unusual. With ‘yet’ and ‘already’ we usually use the present perfect, not the simple past.
So when do Americans use the present perfect and when do they use the simple past?
In written English and when we’re speaking carefully, we often use the present perfect with ‘yet’ and ‘already’. But when we’re speaking informally, we often use the simple past. ‘Did you do it yet?’ sounds a little more informal than ‘Have you done it yet?’, especially if we use the less careful pronunciation ‘Didja do it yet?.
And there’s something else. My theory is ‘Did you do it yet?’ can sound just a little more urgent in American English than ‘Have you done it yet?’
I agree with that, Vicki. Let’s share one more example.

Did you do it yet?
What?
You know.
What? Oh I forgot!
You didn’t pay the electric bill!
Sorry.

And that’s it. Now you know how we both use the present perfect with ‘just’, ‘yet’ and ‘already’.
If you enjoyed this video why not share it with a friend? And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel
And to Jennifer’s too, so you don’t miss any of her great videos.
Bye now.
Bye.
Click here to learn about lots more British and American differences.
Click here to see more grammar videos.

10 British words and phrases that Americans don’t use

10 British words and phrases that Americans don’t use

Here are 10 British words and phrases that I rarely hear in the US, or if I do, they have rather different meanings. For example, my British ground floor is an American first floor, and my first floor becomes a second floor. Cheers is another one. It can also mean thank you and goodbye in the UK. And then there are words like shirty, plonker and taking the mickey.
See 10 British words and phrases in action in a comedy sketch and get explanations here.

Click here to learn more British and American differences
Click here to see how to say cheers in some other languages

British words and phrases

Well, it’s a lovely conference hotel, isn’t it?
Yes, isn’t it great?
I hope Jay hasn’t overslept again. We never hear the alarms on our phones.
No, he’s up. I saw him at breakfast.
Oh good.
Ah Jay. You’re late.
Sorry. I thought this meeting was on the first floor.
Yeah?
Well, this is the second floor.
No, it isn’t.
Never mind. Have you got the artwork, Jay, for our presentation?
Yes, it was quite a challenge. I couldn’t find all the images you wanted so I had to take the photos myself.
Oh cheers, Jay.
Yeah, cheers.
Ah. Cheers. Cheers.
Show us the pictures.
Sure. Here’s the first one.
I don’t understand.
Yeah. Which picture is this?
Hmmm. Man delivering the post.
This isn’t what we had in mind.
Where are the letters?
You didn’t say anything about letters.
But we wanted a postman.
Let’s move on. Jay, show us the next one.
OK. Well this photo was very hard to take.
I don’t get it.
Me neither.
Well, you said you wanted a suitcase in a boot. Now I couldn’t find a boot big enough for a whole suitcase but I did my best.
Are you taking the mickey?
The mi… What do you mean?
We need to see a suitcase in the back of a car.
Well then why didn’t you say so?
I thought we did.
You did not.
Don’t get shirty.
Sh… What?
What’s the next one?
OK. I put a lot of effort into this one and it’s exactly what you asked for.
It’s a school boy holding a rubber. What’s wrong now?
It’s pants, Jay.
No it’s not. Its a condom.
Vicki, you’re going to have to make all these images again.
Yeah. You’re such a plonker Jay. What time is our presentation tomorrow?
8.30 in the morning. Do you want me to stop by your room and knock you up?
Oh, that would be great. Thanks Craig. What?
Hello everyone, I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
And last week we showed you that story and asked you to spot the British expressions.
There were ten of them and you did really well!
Well done!
We were very impressed, and this week we’re going to explain them.
Yeah, let’s get cracking
That means let’s start and we say that in American English too.
But you don’t say ground floor when you’re talking about buildings.
We can but the ground floor of a building is the first floor. And in the UK?
It varies but usually we have a ground floor and then the NEXT floor is the first floor.
So it’s the second floor. In the US we’re logical. We start at floor one and go up.
Well we have a different logic. We start at zero. OK, what’s next?
Cheers. We say cheers when we’re making toast in American English. So when we’re lifting our glasses to drink.
We do too but cheers has some other meanings as well. It’s an informal way to say good bye.
Oh, like cheerio?
Yeah, ‘Cheers, bye!’ And it’s also an informal way to say thank you.
OK, next one. Post. That’s a piece of wood or metal that’s set in the ground.
That’s the same in British English but the post is also the mail – so letters and parcels. And a postman or postwoman is someone who delivers the post.
We’d call them a mail carrier. A mailman if it’s a man.
OK. Next?
A boot. This is a big strong shoe.
Same in the UK, but it also means the space in the back of a car where you put your bags and cases.
We call that the trunk. Taking the mickey.
Yes. This is an informal expression and it’s when you make someone look silly.
Is it unkind to take the mickey?
Not really. It means teasing and making fun of someone, but usually in a gentle way.
OK. Shirty. What does that mean?
That means cross or a little angry.
So when you’re shirty, you’re bad tempered.
Exactly. Shirty is when you’re rude because you’re annoyed.
OK, the next one. Rubber. This is an informal way of saying condom on the US – so a rubber is a contraceptive.
We just call them condoms in the UK. And we use rubbers to remove pencil marks from paper.
That’s an eraser.
Yeah, we could say eraser but it’s a bit formal. We normally say rubber.
Plonker. This is an insult right?
Yes. It’s slang. If someone is stupid we might say they’re a plonker.
It means they’re an idiot?
Yeah, or we might say they’re a wally – that’s another informal word. If someone does something stupid we might say ‘Oh, you wally’. It means stupid too.
Pants.
Ah yes.
Now pants are a piece of clothing that cover our legs in American English but I know that’s different in British English.
Yeah, we call them trousers. And for us, pants are what you wear under your trousers next to your skin.
We call that underwear.
But pants can also be an adjective in British English. It’s informal and we use it to say something was rubbish. So ‘How was the film?’ ‘Oh it was pants.’
Oh so pants means very bad.
Yeah.
And now the last one. Knock someone up
This is informal again and it has a couple of meanings in British English.
In American English it’s slang and it means to make a girl pregnant.
We have that meaning too. But very often it means to wake someone up by knocking on their door.
That’s not what I think of when I hear it.
He must have a dirty mind. So are we done?
Yes. That was fun.
We want to say a big thank you to Craig for appearing in the comedy sketch with us.
We’ll put links to his websites below. They’re great for Spanish speakers who are learning English.
And if you enjoyed this video please share it with a friend.
And subscribe to our channel.
See you all next week everyone. Bye.
Bye-bye.
Click here to learn more British and American differences
Click here to see how to say cheers in some other languages