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.



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