July 4th: History and celebrations

July 4th: History and celebrations

July 4th, 1776 was the day 13 British colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and formed a new nation. Learn about the history of the US from an American and a Brit. (Do you think we’ll agree?) We’ll also show you how we celebrate July 4th today.

You’ll hear why, in our opinions, we think:
– Americans wanted a divorce from Great Britain
– the founding fathers were treasonous/brave/far-sighted
– taxation without representation was the core issue (or not)

We’ll also describe how we celebrate today with things like parades, street parties and fireworks.
And along the way they’ll share some of their favourite (and easy) traditional recipes for a great July 4th party.

July 4th is Independence Day in the US.
And it’s a public holiday. So in this video we’ll look at what American’s are celebrating and how they celebrate it.
They’re celebrating leaving Great Britain.
So in this video you’ll hear our different opinions about the history.
And we’ll show you how we like to celebrate the holiday today.
This is going to be our very personal take on history.
Vicki’s British and I’m American so we’ll probably disagree.
Back in 1776, there was no United States. But down the East coast there were 13 British colonies.
Now, on July 4th 1776 – the 13 colonies declared independence from Great Britain and came together to become a new country.
So basically they committed treason. Treason is the crime where you’re disloyal to your country or its government.
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
So the declaration of independence was basically a divorce document.
So why did you want a divorce from us?
Well, you were making us pay taxes when we didn’t have any representatives in the British parliament. We had taxation with no representation.
OK, here’s the thing.
You didn’t stay in the colonies. You kept moving west and claiming more land, land where Native Americans were living, and land the French said they owned. You caused a war.
She means the French and Indian war. It happened earlier.
Yeah, and we helped you win it. And it cost money and the British taxpayers had to pay for it. And when we said, ‘Hey, Americans, can you contribute too’, you said ‘No, we’re not paying taxes.’
Well, you didn’t fight the war for us. You were just interested in trade and making money.
So the one key thing to remember about this is ‘taxation without representation’, and that was the cry going forward.
They had a lot of cries going forward.
A cry going forward is like a battle cry. It’s a phrase that a group of people use to encourage one another when they’re working and fighting together.
I mean I think they had quite a lot to complain about because you had Great Britain with King George and Lord North was the Prime Minister at the time, and in order to… to administer the colonies, you had to rely on boats, sailing boats. So if you needed a new law, or you needed to appoint someone new then you would have to put a letter on a ship, and wait for them to respond and then it would have to come back, so it was a kind of inefficient way, I guess, to govern.
Well, worse than that, there was a British governor in each of the thirteen colonies, not an American.
Well, you had a lot of local government though as well, and some of the people that the British governors were appointing were of the colonies.
Well right, they were British loyalists.
What? Hang on, that’s another thing, isn’t it. It wasn’t that all Americans felt one way. You were very divided. There were a lot of people who wanted to stay connected to Great Britain and actually, that’s what the Declaration of Independence is about. It’s a list of complaints about the British government and it’s designed to remind Americans what they were fighting for. It had to unite them.
So that was the job of the founding fathers.
You’ll hear that phrase a lot. The founding fathers. And they’re a group of men who included people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson…
And Benjamin Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin.
From Philadelphia.
And they set up the government and created the government of the United States.
These men knew that what they were doing would be treason in Great Britain. It was really dangerous. They would be killed if the British caught them. The Founding fathers were very brave and far-sighted.
Far-sighted means they understood what might happen in the future
They thought ahead and planned for it. It was pretty far-sighted in the eighteenth century to say all men are created equal.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
And the rest is history.
We fought the British until 1781 and we won.
Thankfully those wars are all over. And now July 4th is an excuse for a great party.
We do have wonderful celebrations. We have parades in every town, every big city.
What is a parade?
Oh, a parade is groups of people who are performing as they march down the street. Sometimes there are high school bands. And there are fire trucks and firemen. In every town, in every city, there’s a parade of some kind.
Have you ever been in a parade?
Oh yes I have.
Really? I didn’t know this.
Well, when I was a young boy I was in the boy scouts, and we marched in parades in our city. We marched perfectly. We were terrific marchers.
OK. And then outside the cities, often there are fair grounds, aren’t there?
Oh yes, it’s a wonderful time to have amusement rides, and fun foods that you would eat?
Oh what?
Well we have funnel cakes. Funnel cakes are basically dough covered by confectioner’s sugar.
OK, I’ll tell you what else you have. Candy floss?
She means cotton candy.
OK, but you would eat that?
I certainly would.
And what about snow cones. I don’t know what they are.
Oh, well, snow cones are crushed ice dipped in a flavored syrup of some kind.
So are they sorbets?
No, not at all. It’s just crushed ice dipped in syrup.
Oh right. OK.
You have to have cold drinks on July 4th because it’s really hot.
This is one of our favourites.
The trick is to freeze cubes of water melon.
And then you put them in here with some fruit juice and whizz them up.
You can also make that drink with lime juice and make water melon margaritas.
So for us in Philadelphia, there’s a big parade in the morning, and then there’s a big party on the Parkway.
The Parkway (the Benjamin Franklin Parkway) runs from City Hall all the way to the Art Museum. It’s a very wide boulevard, modelled partly after the Champs Elysees in Paris.
There are lots of street vendors. Vendors are people who sell things. So they might sell food or drinks, and other stuff.
Basically it’s about a lot of people having a lot of fun.
There’s usually some great dancing that’s going on. You get a lot of local performers there. And then in the evening, in front of the Art Museum, they have famous artists performing in concerts.
Some of them included Pit Bull last year, Nicki Minaj.
Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, and it’s all for free.
And back in the day they had people like the Beach Boys.
The Isley Brothers.
And we’ve been out there and people are dancing in the streets, we” we’ve been dancing in the streets.
It’s a lot of fun.
But not this year.
Because of the corona virus, the celebrations are happening online.
Normally we have friends around for a party and we cook a lot of food.
Yes. The traditional food, I think, is hot dogs and hamburgers.
You got it.
And Jay makes lots of hamburgers. You make a big batch.
A batch is a large amount of food that’s produced at one time.
What is your secret ingredient?
Ah, the secret ingredient is… don’t tell anybody, OK? The secret ingredient is a little teriyaki sauce, a little bit of garlic powder, and a little bit of oREGano, or as you would say, oreGAno.
That’s right. And then I take them up to the roof deck and cook them on the grill.
And I make lots of salads, so green salads, tomato salads, coleslaw.
And don’t forget my favorite.
Builder’s salad.
Builders salad. What’s in a builder’s salad.
We call it a builder’s salad. I don’t know why. Basically it’s just all the vegetables you can find in your fridge, and you chop them up and you mix them with mayonnaise and it’s lovely.
Except we use vegan mayonnaise with the vegetables, so I can eat it too.
But the big, big, big finale of July 4th is fireworks, right?
The Art Museum’s just over there. They have a hige fireworks display and we can see it from here.
This year, unfortunately, there’ll be no fireworks.
But we can have some sparklers.
On our deck. Happy July 4th.
Happy fourth.
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How good is your English? Quiz 4

How good is your English? Quiz 4

This quiz is about common mistakes that English learners make. We look at:
– affect vs. effect
– by vs. until
– how to say someone’s age
– raise vs. rise
– when we use the verb ‘suggest’
– structures we use (and don’t use) with suggest

How good is your English?
We’re going to have a quiz to find out.
We’ll try to catch you out with some common mistakes.
Let’s see how you do.
We’ve made some quiz videos like this before.
Here’s how they work. We ask a question and you have to answer before the clock stops ticking.
Let’s have the first one.
OK, here’s the situation. This weekend, your friend is planning to go to the seaside.
She means the shore.
But the weather forecast is terrible. What do you ask your friend?
Is the weather going to effect your plans?
Is the weather going to affect your plans?
Affect is usually a verb and it means to change or influence something
And effect is a noun. It’s the result of the change or influence.
So verb and noun. Notice the spelling so you don’t muddle them up.
This is a mistake that native English speakers make too.
Well they sound very similar. Affect. Effect. When we’re speaking naturally that /?/ sound becomes like a schwa.
It’s hard to hear the difference.
Hello Kathy. I can’t believe it’s still raining.
Yeah, it’s terrible. Really bad.
When’s it going to stop?
The forecast is not good.
Is it going to affect your plans?
Well, I was thinking of going to the shore this weekend, but now I think I won’t.
There was a really strange man answering all my questions.
OK, next question. I think this one might be extra tricky for our Brazilian viewers.
Imagine your boss is giving you instructions. What does she say?
You need to finish this report until Friday.
You need to finish this report till Friday.
You need to finish this report by Friday.
When we’re talking about a deadline, we say ‘by’.
‘By’ means at or before a time. So no later than.
And what about until?
That’s what we say when we’re talking about a situation that continues up to a time.
You can watch this until nine o’clock, but then we’re going to change channels.
What’s happening at nine o’clock?
Dancing with the Stars is on.
She loves that program.
Another way of saying until is ‘till’.
It means the same as until, but it sounds a little less formal.
Notice the spelling. It has two Ls.
Let’s see ‘by’ and ‘until’ in action.
So when will you be back?
Not until late.
OK. I’ll probably be in bed by the time you get home.
Have fun!
See ya!
Are you in bed yet?
I’ve forgotten my keys.
I’ll be back by twelve. Could you stay awake until I get back? Hello? Hello?
If you want to see more examples, here’s a link.
OK our next question is a quick one. Imagine you have a young nephew and you want to say how old he is.
He has six years.
He’s six years old.
He’s six years.
He’s six.
So we say six years old, or just the number: He’s six.
We don’t say ‘He’s six years’. Though a lot of my students make that mistake. How old are you Jay?
I’ve lost count. What about you?
You should never ask a lady her age!
True. We’ve made another video about that.
I’ll put the link here. OK, next question.
You’ve noticed that some things have been getting more expensive because of the corona virus. What do you say?
Prices have been rising
Prices have been raising.
Stores have been rising their prices.
Stores have been raising their prices.
Both of these verbs describe upward movement, but we use them in different ways.
Raise takes a direct object, so we always raise something.
We can raise our hand or raise our eyebrows,
And raise is a regular verb: raise – raised – raised.
But rise is an irregular verb. Rise – rose – risen.
And rise has no direct object so things just rise.
The sun rises in the east. Nobody puts it up. It goes up on its own.
And now ladies and gentlemen, Vicki will rise into the air. She’s rising. She’s risen. She rose.
Oooh. What happened?
I used my magic powers to raise you into the air.
What else can you do with that?
Oh anything. I can even make you disappear.
Here’s another way to think of it. Raise is like lift or or put up, and rise is like go up.
If you want some more practice, we have more examples here
OK, another question.
You’re going out for a meal with a friend and you need to decide on a restaurant.
You’ve heard Victor’s Bistro is good. Here are four phrases, but one sounds strange. Which one?
I suggest going to Victor’s Bistro.
Why don’t we try Victor’s Bistro?
How about Victor’s Bistro?
Let’s go to Victor’s Bistro.
So they’re all possible, but ‘I suggest’ is a bit strange.
It’s because ‘suggest’ is quite a formal word.
You’re more likely to write it or to say it in a formal business meeting.
Normally we use a different phrase to make suggestions.
Where do you want to go for dinner tonight?
Why don’t we try the Chinese place?
Or how about Victor’s Bistro?
Good idea! Let’s book a table.
We use ‘suggest’, when we want to be explicit, in other words, extra clear.
Or when we’re reporting what someone else said.
Why don’t we look at that?
OK. Here’s another question. Imagine you wrote a report for your boss, but she didn’t like it and she says ‘I think you should do it again?’
Here are 3 sentences. How many are correct?
She suggested me to do it again.
She suggested to do it again.
She suggested I do it again.
So only one answer was correct there. ‘She suggested I do it again’.
It’s because you can’t use an infinitive form after the verb suggest.
There are other forms you could use, like she suggested doing it again – that would be correct.
But after suggest, you can’t say ‘to do’.
Hello? Oh hi, Jennifer.
Hey Jay. Can you send me that report?
I’m still working on it.
I thought you’d finished it.
Well Vicki suggested that I do it again.
Suggest is a tricky verb.
But we have a video about it with more examples.
I’ll put the link here. And I’ll also add the link to the other quiz videos in this series at the end.
So you can keep testing yourself if you like. Are we done then?
Yes, but if you know anyone who you think would enjoy this video, please share it with them.
And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel.
Take care everyone. Bye.
Bye- bye.


English for the hairdresser's and barbershop

English for the hairdresser’s and barbershop

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

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

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

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

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


COVID-19 wordplay quiz

COVID-19 Word Play Quiz

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

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

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

New English words & COVID-19

New English Words and Language Change with COVID-19

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

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

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

Language Change with COVID-19

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

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

Covid-19 Stocks supplies and shortages

COVID-19: Stocks, supplies and shortages

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

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

What do you like doing? The SEVY Awards 2020

What do you like doing? The SEVY Awards 2020

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

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

American Slang

More American slang expressions that Brits don’t use

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

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

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

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

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

Practice Speaking English

Speaking English Challenge – Be in a YouTube Video

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

The passive voice in English

8 Things We Love about Spain – Passive Voice

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

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

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

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

The passive voice in English

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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