will going to present continuous

Will, going to and the present continuous – 3 common future forms

Do you know how to talk about the future in English?
In this video we compare Do you know how to talk about the future in English?
We look at how we talk about facts and predictions, plans and making decisions and you’ll see lots of examples future forms in action.

Click here to learn some phrases we use to talk about the future.
Click here to learn about some verbs we often use to talk about the future.

Will, going to and the present continuous

We had a request from a viewer for this video.
Moroccan geographer said the most difficult thing about English for him is the future.
He said “I don’t know when to use “will” or “be going to” or the present continuous. It’s awful!”
They’re all common ways to talk about the future.
And they’re tricky because sometimes their uses overlap, and sometimes they don’t.
So we’re going to to look at the three basics – facts and predictions, plans and making decisions.
And we have a story for you so you can see them in action.
Let’s start with facts and predictions.

Welcome. I am Madame Victoire and I will unlock the mysteries of the future.
How much do you charge?
You get three predictions for three hundred dollars.
That’s a lot of money.
Three predictions with 100% accuracy and a money back guarantee.
Oh, so if your predictions are wrong, I get my money back.
Yes. It won’t cost you a penny. But I’m never wrong.
OK. I’ll do it. But here’s the thing. I have a very important job interview tomorrow morning …
Shhh. Let me see… Hmmm, I see black clouds. It’s going to rain tomorrow.
Really? The weather forecast says it’s going to be sunny.
Oh you’re right. The ball was a little dirty. Tomorrow will be sunny.

I don’t trust Madame Victoire.
She says she’s 100% accurate.
We’ll see about that.

Facts and predictions: will and going to

OK, let’s look at some of the things she said.
We often use the verb ‘will’ to state facts about the future and make predictions. Will is a modal verb and the negative is won’t – will – not – won’t.

It won’t cost you a penny.

Sometimes it’s hard to hear ‘will’ when we’re speaking fast because we use contractions: I’ll, you’ll, we’ll, they’ll, he’ll, she’ll and it’ll. It’ll be sunny tomorrow.
But with facts and predictions ‘will’ isn’t the only verb we use. We also use ‘be going to’. It’s the present continuous form of the verb ‘go’ and it’s very common. Notice the pronunciation again. When we’re speaking fast we don’t say going to, we say gonna.
So here’s the question. Is there a difference in meaning with ‘will’ and ‘be going to’?
A lot of the time, there’s no difference. We can say ‘will’ or ‘going to’ and it means the same thing.
A mistake students often make is they use ‘will’ too much. It doesn’t sound natural.
And also there are some situations where we don’t say ‘will’.
If a prediction is based on present evidence, we say ‘going to’ – not will.
We saw an example of that too.

Hmmm, I see black clouds. It’s going to rain tomorrow.

The evidence was the black clouds, so she said ‘It’s gonna rain.’
She saw that rain was on its way.
It would sound odd to say ‘will’ here.
‘Going to’ is more natural because she’s looking at evidence. She can see the rain coming.
Here’s another example. I’m gonna have a problem with that fortune teller.
That’s your prediction?
Yes, and I’m saying ‘gonna’, because I saw signs that she wasn’t very good.
Her crystal ball was dirty.
Exactly, so I’m predicting that she’s going to be a problem.
Then let’s see what happens next.

Am I going to get the job?
Oh dear. Oh dear.
What do you see? Is there a problem?
There’ll be a lot of traffic on the highway tomorrow. How are you getting to that job interview?
I’m walking.
Well don’t take the highway.
I’m not taking the highway. I’m going on foot.
Just as well.

Future plans: going to and the present continuous

We heard another prediction there: There’ll be a lot of traffic on the highway.
But there’s always a lot of traffic on the highway. Anyone could predict that.
True. OK, we heard another future form there.

How are you getting to that job interview?
I’m walking.

We heard the present continuous. We often use this form to talk about future plans and arrangements.
If it’s not clear that we mean the future and not now, we state a time.
How are you getting to your job interview tomorrow?
We use ‘going to’ and the present continuous to talk about future plans.
And again, in lots of situations, you can use either.
So is there a difference in meaning with these forms? We use ‘going to’ to talk about intentions – things we intend to do. And we use the present continuous to talk about arrangements and appointments with other people. But many future events are both intentions and arrangements, so in a lot of cases either form works.
But if the verb is ‘go’, we normally use the present continuous and not ‘be going to’. We heard an example of that.

I’m going on foot.

You could also say ‘I’m going to go on foot.’ It’s grammatically OK, but it doesn’t sound so natural. With the verb ‘go’ we generally use the present continuous.
We’ll say things like I’m going to the shops. I’m going by bus. I’m going home.
Yes, we could say ‘I’m going to go to the shops’ but it sounds repetitive.
We generally avoid it. Use the present continuous with the verb ‘go’ instead.
Are we going to see what happens next in the story?
Yeah, OK.

I need to know about my job interview. What questions are they going to ask me?
Oh this is interesting. Well I never!
Is it good news?
Yes. Do you have shares in Acme Corp?
No.
Well buy some.
I can’t. I just gave you all my money.
That’s a shame. They’re going up tomorrow. Well, that’s it then.
But you haven’t told me about my job interview.
Just let make a note of that. Buy Acme Corp ….
You haven’t answered any of my questions. You’re a fraud.
I am not!
I want my money back.
No. You’ve had three predictions and they’re 100% accurate.
I’ll call the police.
Oh no. No, no. All right. I’ll give you another one.

Decisions: will and going to

She’s a fraud.
But she offered to give you another prediction.
Yeah, but only when I threatened to call the cops.
I’ll call the police.
Oh no. No, no. All right. I’ll give you another one.
Notice she said ‘I’ll give you another one’. There’s a difference between ‘will’ and ‘going to’ when we’re making decisions.
If we’re making a spontaneous decision, we use will, not going to.
A spontaneous decision is a decision we’re making at the time of speaking.
We saw another example of that earlier.
It won’t cost you a penny.
OK. I’ll do it.
Jay said ‘I’ll do it there’ – so he used ‘will’ not ‘going to’.
I made the decision on the spot.
But if we’re talking about a decision we made earlier, we don’t say will.
We say ‘be going to’ or we use the present continuous.

Well don’t take the highway.
I’m not taking the highway. I’m going on foot.
Just as well.

So at the moment we’re making a decision, we use ‘will’.
But after we’ve made the decision it becomes our intention or plan.
And then we use ‘going to’ or the present continuous because the decision’s already made and now it’s a plan.
It’s logical if you think about it.
I think we need a review.
We use ‘be going to’ and ‘will’ to talk about future facts and to make predictions. In most situations we can say ‘will’ or ‘going to’. It doesn’t matter which one.
But if there’s evidence or if there are signs that something is on its way, we generally use ‘be going to’.
We also use ‘be going to’ to talk about future plans. And we use the present continuous to talk about plans as well, especially if we’re talking about arrangements and appointments with other people.
If we’re making a decision at the time of speaking, we say ‘will’. And if we’re talking about a decision that was made in the past, we use ‘going to’.
So those are the key rules we follow with ‘will’, ‘be going to’ and the present continuous.
It’s not so hard, is it?
Just remember not to use ‘will’ all the time because sometimes ‘will’ doesn’t work.
Is that it then?
Yes. Well, we still need to finish the story
Before we do, if you’ve enjoyed this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel.
And maybe you can share it with a friend who’ll find it useful too.
Let’s finish the story then.

Tell me about my job interview. What’s going to happen?
You don’t need to worry about your job interview.
Thank goodness for that!
In fact they’re going to call you in three seconds to cancel it.
Why?
They’ve already hired someone else.

Click here to learn some phrases we use to talk about the future.
Click here to learn about some verbs we often use to talk about the future.

how to form the third conditional examples

The English Third Conditional in Action

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

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


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

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

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

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

When to use the third conditional

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

How to form the third conditional

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

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

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

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

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

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

second conditional examples

The second conditional in action – English grammar

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

First vs second conditional

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

Second conditional examples

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


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

The second conditional

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

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

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

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

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

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

The second conditional in action in a story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you were me, who would you choose?

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

who or whom

Who and whom – when and how to use them

Learn the difference between who and whom in this English grammar lesson.
Who is a subject pronoun and whom is an object pronoun. We’ll show you:
– how who and whom work
– a test to see if who or whom is correct
– when it’s appropriate to use whom in formal writing
– when it’s not appropriate to use whom (Whom can sound pompous)
– how we use whom in constructions with prepositions
We’ll also show you lots of examples of who and whom in action.

Click here to learn the difference between whose and who’s

Who and whom – when and how to use them

Knock knock
Whose there?
To
To who
No, it’s to whom.
Argh!

Hi everyone. I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
We’ve had a lot of requests for a video about ‘who’ and ‘whom’.
It’s taken us a long time to make it. Why is that?
It’s because of the word ‘whom’. We don’t use it much these days. We usually say who instead when we’re speaking.
And what about written English?
That’s different. There are particular documents where we use whom.
We’ll tell you more about that later. But first we’ll show you how ‘who’ and ‘whom’ work.
Yeah, you need to know about subjects and objects.

Oh no, what happened?
I don’t know! Someone hit me!
Who hit you?
I’ve no idea.
Oh dear.
But I’ll be ready next time.

So what happened there?
Someone hit me!
So someone, we don’t know who, did the action and Jay received the action. Someone is the subject in this sentence and Jay is the object.
Yeah! But it won’t happen again.

You hit someone!
Yep!
Who did you hit?
That guy over there!

So this time you hit someone else.
Yeah, I got that guy!
So in this sentence Jay’s the subject because he did the action, and the other guy’s the object because he received the action.
Vicki asked me two questions. First she asked about the subject. And then she asked about the object. She used the pronoun ‘who’ both times. When we’re speaking, we use who to ask about the subject and the object.
But according to a rule of formal grammar, I made a mistake here. The rule goes we should use ‘who’ to ask about the subject, and ‘whom’ to ask about the object. So ‘Who hit Jay?’ and ‘Whom did Jay hit’?
So that’s the difference between ‘who’ and ‘whom’.
Who is a subject pronoun and whom is an object pronoun.
Yeah.
We need another example.

Hey, stop that man.

Take a look at these questions. If you follow the traditional grammar rule, one question should start with ‘who’ and the other should start with ‘whom’.
Can you work out which is which? You need to think about subjects and objects.
So we’re asking a question about who did the action here – the chasing. So this question is asking about the subject of the sentence. We use ‘who’ because ‘who’ is a subject pronoun.
And this question is asking about who received the action – the object.
If you think it sounds complicated, you’re not alone. A lot of people find it hard.
Native speakers often get confused.
These days, when we’re speaking, we use ‘who’ in both questions so a lot of English speakers don’t know when to use whom.
But don’t worry. There’s a trick for working it out.
It’s the ‘he-him’ test.
We’ll show you how it works.
If you’re not sure whether to use who or whom, try answering the question with another pronoun that you already know. You probably know these. They’re all subject pronouns. And you probably know these too. They’re all object pronouns.
We can use ‘he’ and ‘him’ to test whether ‘who’ or ‘whom’ works. Notice that ‘he’ and ‘who’ are both subject pronouns and ‘him’ and ‘whom’ are both object pronouns. And also notice that ‘him’ and ‘whom’ both end with the letter M. That will help you remember that they go together.
Here’s an example. Should you say ‘who’ or ‘whom’ here? No idea? Then try answering with ‘he’ or ‘him’. He follows me on Twitter – that sounds possible. What about him? ‘Him follows me on Twitter.’ No, that sounds wrong. So ‘who’ is correct.
Here’s another example. Is the missing word who or whom? Well, let’s answer the question with ‘he’. ‘I follow he’. No, that sounds wrong. Let’s try ‘him’. ‘I follow him’. That sounds OK. So the answer here is whom.
So that’s a way to test if it’s who or whom.
But remember, we don’t normally follow this rule in spoken English. We use who as an object pronoun these days.
But some people get upset about it, if they see who instead of whom.
Yes, like Twitter has a feature called ‘who to follow’ and some people complained and wanted them to call it ‘Whom to follow’.
‘Whom to follow’– that’s technically correct.
But we’d never say it. I think it’s a silly idea.
Whom sounds very old fashioned.
And very, very formal.
Whom can sound pompous.
Exactly. ‘Whom’ creates a social distance between you and your listener.
You don’t want to sound pompous. It’s not a good thing.
Another word that’s similar to pompous is pretentious. Whom can sound pretentious.
You don’t want to seem like you’re pretending to be more sophisticated than you are.
So be careful with the word whom.
Don’t say it in questions when you’re speaking.
Yeah. But there’s another grammatical structure where we could use whom.
What’s that?
Relative clauses.
Oh let’s see some.

Now before we start the conference, there are some people whom we must thank. There’s Mr. Jones, who sent the invitations and Mrs. Smith, who organized the accommodation. And then there’s Mr. Peters, whom you will meet later when he will explain the conference schedule. And then there’s something green in your teeth.

Has it gone?
Yeah, you’re all right. Let’s see how those relative clauses work.
We use relative clauses to add information about someone we’ve just mentioned. The same rules for who and whom apply. We use who for subjects and whom for objects. And if you’re not sure, you can use the ‘he-him’ test again.
So with Mr Jones? Did ‘he’ send the invitations or did ‘him’ send the invitations? He did, so we need the subject pronoun here – who. And it’s the same with Mrs Smith. She did the action so we say who.
And some more examples. ‘We must thank some people’. We must thank ‘he’? That doesn’t sound good. We must thank ‘him’. That works so we need an object pronoun. And the last one, Mr Peters. Are we going to meet ‘he’ later or ‘him’ later? It’s him so we say ‘whom’.
You’ll only find whom used like this in very formal spoken English. Normally we’d say who in these examples.
Languages change over time and in spoken English ‘whom’ has been disappearing. In fact it’s almost gone.
And what about written English?
It’s hanging on there. We still use it, but only in formal writing.

Whom in formal writing

In emails and texts, we’ll use who instead of whom.
But some companies have a house style for formal reports where they use ‘whom’.
And whom is still the house style for the New York Times.
I did a search of my computer and I found ‘whom’ in two kinds of documents.
What were they?
Legal documents like contracts.
Ah yes. Contracts are written in a very formal style.
And academic papers. So research papers that are published in journals.
That makes sense. They’re formal too.
Oh and I also found it in a reference.
A job reference?
Yes, I’d written a reference for someone and I didn’t know the name of the person I was writing to, so I addressed it ‘To whom it may concern’.
That’s a standard phrase – I often use it when I submit job applications. And again, it’s very formal.
And it’s interesting, because a lot of the time, we can write who instead of whom these days and it’s fine and appropriate, but here we wouldn’t write who.
It would sound strange. It has to be whom. Is it because it comes after a preposition?
Yes, in formal writing it’s better to write whom in constructions with prepositions. In fact the most common way we use whom is in phrases like one of whom, some of whom, most of whom.
So we’d write whome here, not who, because it comes after ‘of’.
Yes. Whom often follows a preposition: of whom, with whom, from whom, and to whom of course. But that’s formal writing. In spoken English ‘to whom’ sounds silly.

Now settle down children. We’re going to do some grammar. To whom does this sock belong?

According to the traditional grammar rule, this question is correct.
But we would never say it. We might say who does this sock belong to – but then the question ends with a preposition.
Yeah. That’s fine.
But when I when I was in school my teachers said you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition.
That rule is stupid. If you want us to make another video about silly English grammar rules, tell us in the comments.
Do you think the who-whom rule is silly?
Errr no. The word whom is disappearing, but there are still places where it’s appropriate to use it – like in formal writing.
We hope this video has been useful for the writers who we teach – whom we teach – who we teach…
It’s time to stop. If you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend.
And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel.
See you next week everyone. Bye.
Bye-bye.

First conditional English grammar

The First Conditional in Action – English Grammar

The first conditional is a useful English grammar structure for talking about future possibilities.

If you watch this video, you’ll see lots of first conditional examples. Hey – we just used a first conditional there! It’s such a useful structure!

First conditionals have two clauses: the condition and possible result. We’ll show you how to form them, make negatives and questions, punctuate them and reverse the order. You’ll learn about a common mistake and the different modal verbs you can use.

And very importantly, you’ll see lots of examples of the first conditional in action.  We have a funny spy story for you to enjoy.

Click here to learn about the zero conditional.
Click here to learn about ‘if’ and ‘in case’.

The first conditional in action

It’s so cold outside.
I know. There’s a big storm coming. They say it might snow.
Oh great!
You want it to snow?
Yeah. If it snows tomorrow, the office will close.
And we can stay home.
And have a day off.

Hi everyone. I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
This lesson’s about the first conditional – a very useful grammar structure for talking about future possibilities.
We have lots of examples and a story for you – a spy story.
You’ll love it. But first we need to look at the grammar.
In fact, you just heard an example.
We use the first conditional to talk about things that might happen in the future. So this means snow is not certain, but it’s a real possibility tomorrow.
The sentence has two parts, two clauses: one is the condition and one is the possible result. You can reverse the order of the clauses and it means the same thing. If the sentence starts with ‘if’, we generally use a comma. If ‘if’ comes in the middle of the sentence, the comma isn’t necessary.
Let’s look at the verb forms here. We have ‘if’ and then the present simple tense, and then the modal verb ‘will’ and the base form of the verb. Notice we use the present tense in the if clause. So we’re talking about the future, but we’re using the present tense. In some languages you can use a future form here, but not in English. This sentence is wrong, so don’t make this mistake.
So we use the present tense to talk about the future?
Yes, but apart from that, the grammar is straightforward.
What about questions and negatives?
They’re easy too.

If it doesn’t snow tomorrow, the office will stay open.
But it might close. What will you do if we have the day off?
I won’t do any work. I’ll have a pajama day.
Me too. And I’ll watch Game of Thrones.
Attention all employees. Even if it snows tomorrow, the office will stay open. Please report to work promptly.

‘Will’ is a modal verb, so to make a question we reverse the word order. Instead of ‘you will’, say ‘will you’.
Negatives are straightforward too. With normal verbs in the present simple, we use don’t or doesn’t.
With will, it’s different, because will is a modal verb. We use the contraction won’t. Will + not = won’t
So that’s the grammar. Let’s have the story now!
Hang on, I have two questions first.
What?
First one. Can you say ‘when’ instead of ‘if’? You can but the meaning is different.
‘If’ means something may happen. It may snow or it may not. It’s just a possibility and you’re not certain. ‘When’ means something will definitely happen. It’s certain.
So with ‘when’ you know for sure that it’s going to snow. Perhaps you’ve seen the weather radar map.
So it’s a certainty. Not a possibility.
Yes.
What’s the other question?
It’s about ‘will’. Is ‘will’ the only modal verb we can use in a first conditional?
That’s a good question. Why don’t we watch the story and then we can find out?
Good idea.
Watch the story and listen for sentences with ‘if’. See how many you can spot.

Oh. Mr Bond.
Yes, the name is Bond. Jay Bond. Nice to meet you.
Ooo. You too. And you’re going to London next week?
Yes. It’s my first international assignment. I can’t wait.
Excellent.
And you have some cool equipment for me.
Well, yes. We have some useful things.
I love gadgets. Hey, look at this. X-ray glasses. If I put these on, I can see through walls.
Well…
Can I?
Oh go ahead. They’re actually just normal sunglasses.
Oh.
They could be very useful if it’s sunny in London.
Sunny in London?
Yes, sometimes it’s sunny at this time of year.
Well I guess then I won’t need this umbrella. Oh but it’s not an umbrella, is it? Let me guess. If I press this button a knife shoots out.
Well, no.
It fires a bullet then.
Err no. When you press the button, the umbrella opens.
It’s just an umbrella?
Yes, but it’s fully automatic.
Don’t you have any high-tech stuff? Like electronic gadgets.
Well, this one’s electrical.
Oh wow! It’s a radio transmitter! If I want to communicate with HQ, I’m going to use this.
Err. No, it’s not a transmitter.
Oh. Is it a bug for recording conversations?
No, it’s a plug adaptor.
Huh?
Yeah. The plugs are different in England. If you need to recharge your toothbrush, it’ll come in handy.
But I need spying stuff. Don’t you have anything dangerous?
Well we have a couple of things that come with safety warnings.
Oh great. Show them to me.
OK, there are these tablets.
Hey this is more like it. They’re poison, right? If I put these in people’s drinks, will they fall asleep? Or die?
No, no, no. They’re travel sickness tablets.
Huh?
It’s a seven-hour flight to England, but if you take two of these, you should be all right. Just follow the instructions on the label.
Oh this is no good. I’m an international spy. I need gadgets – dangerous stuff. What’s this? A water bottle!
Oh no, no, no.
Don’t tell me. It’s a long flight. If I drink this water, I won’t get dehydrated.
No. It’s explosive.
BANG!

How many sentences with ‘if’ did you hear? There were eight.
Did you spot them all? Let’s go though them.

We have some useful things.
I love gadgets. Hey, look at this. X-ray glasses. If I put these on, I can see through walls.
Well…

First of all Jay, what’s a gadget?
A gadget is a small tool or device.
And it’s cleverly designed.
And gadgets are useful. I thought the sunglasses could help me see through walls.
Yes, notice the modal verb here. Instead of ‘will’ Jay said ‘can’.
We often say ‘will’ in first conditionals, but it’s not the only verb we use.
We can use other verbs that have a future meaning. We saw another example.

Can I?
Oh go ahead. They’re actually just normal sunglasses.
Oh.
They could be very useful if it’s sunny in London.

So ‘could’ has a future meaning here.
It means you think it’s possible.
Exactly. First conditionals are all about future possibilities.
OK, let’s see some more.

Well I guess then I won’t need this umbrella. But it’s not an umbrella, is it? Let me guess. If I press the button a knife shoots out.
Well, no….
It fires a bullet then.
Err no. When you press the button, the umbrella opens.
It’s just an umbrella?

Now what about this example. Is it a first conditional?
Sort of, but many people call it a zero conditional because it’s a little different. In this sentence we can change the word ‘if’ for ‘when’ and the meaning stays the same.
So it’s not about a future possibility. It’s about a future certainty.
Yes. We saw another example with ‘when’. Every time you press the button, the umbrella opens. It always happens.
We’ve made another video about zero conditionals, haven’t we?
Yes, I’ll put the link here.
OK, let’s go back to the first conditional.

Oh wow! It’s a radio transmitter! If I want to communicate with HQ, I’m going to use this.
Err. No, it’s not a transmitter.
Oh. Is it a bug for recording conversations?
No, it’s a plug adaptor.
Huh?
Yeah. The plugs are different in England. If you need to recharge your toothbrush, it’ll come in handy.

What’s HQ?
HQ is an abbreviation for headquarters. But this is interesting. I didn’t say ‘will’ here. I said ‘going to’.
‘Will’ and ‘going to’ have very similar meanings and you could use either here. They both work.
So we can say ‘will’ instead of ‘going to’ here. Now, what about the if clause? Can we use ‘will’ there too?
No. We use a present tense in the if clause. Here’s another example. We can’t say ‘If you will recharge your toothbrush.’ That’s wrong.
What does ‘come in handy’ mean?
It means ‘to be useful.’ For example, ‘Don’t throw that old box away, it could come in handy.’
So remember the phrase ‘come in handy’. It could come in handy!
Exactly.
Let’s look at some more conditionals.

We have a couple of things that come with safety warnings.
Oh great. Show them to me.
OK, there are these tablets.
They’re poison, right? If I put them in people’s drinks, will they fall asleep? Or die?
No, no, no. They’re travel sickness tablets.
Huh?
It’s a seven-hour flight to England, but if you take two of these, you should be all right.

You used a different modal verb again. You didn’t say will. You said ‘should’.
Yes. When we have a good reason to believe something will happen, we can say ‘should’.
We know that travel sickness pills are often effective, but not always
Exactly. So I’m not certain that you’ll be fine, but I think it’s very possible. It’s a future possibility again.
So in first conditionals we can use the modal verbs will, can, could and should.
Yes, and we can also say may and might. If a modal verb has a future meaning, we can use it But the most common verb we use is ‘will’.
Now I asked a question with ‘will’ there.
Yes. ‘Will’ is a modal verb, so to form a question, we change the word order.
And what about negatives?
We saw an example of that too.

Don’t tell me. It’s a long flight, but if I drink this water I won’t get dehydrated.

So in the negative, we say ‘won’t.’ It’s the contraction of will and not.
Yes, and that’s it. Now you know how we form the first conditional, and you’ve seen lots of examples.
I have a question. What’s the difference between the first conditional and the second conditional?
That’s a great question because first and second conditionals are both about future possibilities.
First conditionals are about things we think could happen. They’re real possibilities. Second conditionals are more imaginary or unreal.
They’re for possibilities that we think won’t happen or that can’t happen. We’re making another video about them
So be sure to subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss it.
See you all next week everyone.
Bye-bye.
Bye!

Click here to learn about the zero conditional.
Click here to learn about ‘if’ and ‘in case’.

zero conditionals in action

The Zero Conditional in Action – English Grammar

Zero conditionals are a really useful and simple English grammar structure. We often use them to talk about scientific facts, but that’s not their only use.

In this video your see lots of zero conditional examples and learn how you can also use it to talk about habits and routines and even the past.

Zero conditionals have two clauses: the condition and result. We’ll show you how to form them, make negatives, punctuate them and reverse the order. You’ll learn about when and if in zero conditionals and cause effect relationships.

And just to check that all is clear we finish with a zero conditionals quiz.

Click here to see more grammar videos.

Click here to learn about if and in case.

The Zero Conditional in Action – English Grammar

If you breathe in helium, your voice goes funny.

Hello everyone. I’m Vicki.
And I’m Jay and this lesson’s about the zero conditional.
It’s a really useful and really simple structure. You’ll love it.
We often use it to talk about scientific facts.
Let’s see some examples.

If you heat water, it boils.
If ice gets warm, it melts.

So it’s really easy. The sentences have two parts, two clauses. One is the condition, and one is the result. The condition, the result.
We use the present simple in both clauses. It’s if with the present simple, and then the present simple again.
And we can reverse the order of the clauses. These sentences mean the same thing.
But notice the punctuation is different. If the sentence starts with ‘if’, we use a comma. The comma separates the condition and the result. But if ‘if’ comes in the middle of the sentence, the comma isn’t necessary.
That happens in other conditionals too. We can change the order of the two clauses.
Yeah, but you know what we need to look at next .
What?
How to form negatives.
Let’s see.

What’s this ice cream doing here?
Oh, I might have some later.
If you don’t keep it in the freezer, it melts.
I forgot about it.
And the cream?
What about it?
If you put it in the fridge, it doesn’t go off.
Well, I’m going to have some now.

You heard two examples. If you don’t keep it in the freezer, it melts. If you put it in the fridge, it doesn’t go off.
So how do we form the negatives? It’s the present simple tense, so we use don’t and doesn’t.
To go off means to go bad so you can’t drink it.
In American English we’d say spoil. The milk spoiled.
We could say that in British English but it sounds old fashioned to me. We say go off.
Say spoil.
Now there’s something very special about zero conditionals. It’s something that only happens in this kind of conditional.
What’s that?
We can switch the word ‘if’ for ‘when’.

If you breathe in helium, your voice goes funny.
When you breathe in helium your voice goes funny.

So if, when, they’re both correct here and these sentences mean the same thing.
It’s a special feature of this conditional.
In other conditionals ‘if’ and ‘when’ mean different things, but in zero conditionals they mean the same.
It’s because we’re talking about things that always happen.
If you breathe in helium, the result is always the same.
So if you do it, when you do it, it doesn’t matter because the same thing happens every time.
With zero conditionals one thing always leads to another.

I’m back.
Oh. What did you buy?
Chocolate brownies. You’re going to love them
Wow. But if we eat too many brownies, we put on weight.
Oh. Do you want me to eat yours then?
Heck no!

There’s a cause effect relationship here. Brownies cause weight gain.
Yes, brownies are the cause and the effect is we put on weight.
It’s a sad fact of life.
And that’s why we use a zero conditional. We use them with facts and in situations where something always happens.
That means that we can also use them to talk about habits and routines.

I read the newspaper every day and if I see a good investment opportunity, I call my broker and tell her to buy.
I read the newspaper every day too, but I start at the back and read the sports pages.
When you snooze, you lose.

So here I used the zero conditional to describe a habit, a routine of mine.
And did you notice this one? ‘When you snooze you lose.’ It’s an idiom.
To snooze means to have a short light sleep.
‘When you snooze you lose’ means you have to act fast to get what you want. It’s another general truth. A fact of life.
OK, the next thing we need to talk about is the past.
Ah yes. We usually use zero conditionals to talk about the present, but we can also use them to talk about things that were true in the past.

When I went to school in England, we had to wear a uniform.
In my school we could wear whatever we wanted.
Mmm. When we forgot our tie, we were in trouble.
I didn’t wear a tie.
And if our skirt was too short, the teachers sent us home.
And I didn’t wear a skirt either.

So again, these sentences are about general truths, but they’re things that that were always true in the past.
The structure is the same as before, but instead of the present simple, we use the past tense. And again, we can switch ‘if’ for ‘when’, and ‘when’ for ‘if’.
So we’ve looked at the present and the past. Are we finished now?
No, there’s another very important question. How is the zero conditional different from the first conditional?
They are similar. Let’s look at some examples and see if you can work out the difference.

If you don’t put ice cream in the freezer, it melts.

Was I talking generally about ice cream here? Yes. All ice cream melts if it gets warm. So this is a general truth. Now let’s look at a different example?

If you don’t put this ice cream in the freezer, it’ll melt.

Was Vicki talking about ice cream in general here? No. This one’s different. She was talking about a particular carton of ice cream.
We use the zero conditional to talk about what happens in general, and the first conditional to talk about a particular situation.
So the zero conditional is about what always happens, and the first conditional is about what happens in a particular case.
In many situations we might use a zero or first conditional, but there’s a difference in meaning. General – particular.
We’re making another video about the first conditional. So make sure you subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss it.
I think we should have a review now. Let’s see what you can remember.
We use zero conditionals to talk about things that are always true. We use them when one action always follows another.
In zero conditionals ‘if’ means the same as ‘when’. We can say ‘if’ or ‘when’ and the meaning doesn’t change.
The word ‘if’ comes at the start or in the middle of a sentence. Just remember to use a comma if you start the sentence with ‘if’.
We use zero conditionals to talk about what’s true in all situations. They’re general truths, We don’t use them if we’re thinking of specific or particular situations.
We can use zero conditionals to talk about routines and habits in the present and the past.
They just have to be things that always happen in the present or always happened in the past.
And that’s it! Now you know how we use zero conditionals in English.
If you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend.
And see you next week everyone. Bye.
Bye-bye.

possibility modals

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

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

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

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

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

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

Past possibility modals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The computer couldn’t have turned itself on.

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

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

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

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

English modal verbs possibilty may could might

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

British and American grammar differences

The Present Perfect Tense in British and American English

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is It is

How to use ‘There is’ and ‘It is’

‘There is’ and ‘it is’ are really common and useful phrases. In some languages, you can translate both these phrases with just one phrase, so they can be confusing. We show you how to use them in this video lesson and you’ll also learn how to use it and there as dummy subjects in lots of common English expressions.

Click here to see more grammar videos.
Click here to learn when to use an apostrophe with it’s and its.

It is and There is

Argh! Waiter, waiter. There’s a fly in my soup.
Shh. Don’t tell everyone. They’ll want one too.

Today we’re looking at how we use two really common and useful phrases – ‘there is’ and ‘it is’. In some languages, you can translate both these phrases with just one phrase, so they can be confusing. Also, we can use ‘there’ and ‘it’ as dummy subjects in English, so we’ll look at that too.
Let’s start with there is.

Oh no! There’s a hole in my sock!
Waiter. There’s a fly in my soup.

We use ‘there is’ to say something exists and if more than one thing exists, we say ‘there are’.

You know, there are three types of people in the world.
Oh yes?
There are people who can count…
Mmhmm.
And there are people who can’t.
Mmhmm. And?
And what?

So ‘there is’ is singular, and ‘there are’ is plural.

Waiter.
Yes madam.
There’s no soup on the menu today.
That’s right madam. I cleaned all the menus this morning.

When we want to say things don’t exist, we use a negative form. Now of course the word ‘there’ can have another meaning.

Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup. What’s it doing there?
Ooo. It looks like the backstroke.

The backstroke is a style of swimming where you lie on your back, but notice this other ‘there’. It has a different meaning. It tells us the location of the fly. When ‘there’ means a location, it usually comes at the end of a sentence.

So where do you want to eat?
Well, there’s a MacDonald’s over there, or a pub over there.
Let’s make it the pub.
OK.

So ‘there’ can tell us where something is, but that’s not the meaning we’re looking at today. We’re looking at this one, where ‘there’ tell us something exists.
Most English sentences, start with a subject – the person or thing that does the action. For example, I complained to the waiter. ‘I’ am the subject and I do the action. The verb is complain and then we say who or what received the action. That’s a normal way of making an English sentence.
But it’s not the pattern we follow to say something exists. We don’t say ‘A hole is in my sock’ or ‘A fly is in my soup’. We could but it’s not natural. To say something exists, we say ‘there’. So there is a kind of dummy subject here. Dummy means it’s not real. It’s just a copy of a subject.
OK, that’s enough grammar. Let’s look at ‘it is’ now. We use ‘it is’ to refer to something that we already know about.

There’s someone at the door. It… It’s Jay!

This is a typical pattern. We use ‘there is’ the first time we mention something to introduce it, and after that we say ‘it is’. Another example.

OK,great, thank you. Bye. There’s a meeting tomorrow. It starts at two.
Good.

So there and it refer to the same thing – the meeting. There refers forward and it refers back. The same thing happens with plurals, except we say ‘there’ and ‘they’.

Waiter. Waiter. There are two flies in my wine.
Don’t worry madam. They’re very small so I don’t think they drank much.

‘There’ refers forward. ‘They’ refers back. So here’s the thing to remember. ‘There’ introduces a topic. And then ‘it’ or ‘they’ refer back. Easy huh?
OK, now let’s move up a level. Do you remember how ‘there’ works as a kind of dummy subject? It’s the same with ‘it’. ‘It’ is the subject in lots of common expressions. Let’s watch some examples and see if you spot it?

It’s a terrible day, but it’ll be nice by the weekend.
It’s really hot and sunny today. I think it’s 90 degrees

We use ‘it’ as a dummy subject to talk about the weather. So, it’s hot. It’s sunny. It’s raining. And temperatures – so it’s 90 degrees. OK, now some other situations.

Ah.
What’s the matter?
It’s Monday again. I hate Mondays.
Let’s see. It’s the 14th today so let’s meet on the 17th.
What’s the time?
It’s 5 ‘clock. Oh, I can go home!

We use ‘it’ to talk about days, dates and times of the clock.
OK, here are your last examples. See if you can see a pattern here.

Jason, it’s lovely to see you again.
It’s great to be here.
They’re digging up our street. It’s hard to concentrate with all the noise.
It’s very cold in here. Can we put the heating up?
Why? It’s very comfortable.
It’s awful eating here. The waiter’s terrible!
It’s a pity you have to go.
I’ll be back soon.
Bye Jason.
Bye-bye.

So it’s lovely, it’s great, it’s hard, it’s cold, it’s comfortable, it’s awful, it’s a pity. We can use it’s to give our opinion and comment on a situation or place. So you can use ‘it’ as a dummy subject to say what you think about a situation that you’re in.
And that’s it. Oh, that’s another expression with ‘it’. When I say ‘that’s it’, I mean we’ve finished. If you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend. And make sure you subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss our future videos. It’s great to have your support! Bye.

Click here to see more grammar videos.
Click here to learn when to use an apostrophe with it’s and its.