The Zero Conditional in Action – English Grammar

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Past possibility modals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The computer couldn’t have turned itself on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Present Perfect Tense in British and American English

The Present Perfect Tense in British and American English

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to use ‘There is’ and ‘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.

How to use much, many, a lot and lots of

How to use much, many, a lot and lots of

Much and Many – do you know how to use these words in English? And what about lots of and a lot of? We can help you understand them fully and avoid mistakes.

Join us for a tour of our deck and learn how to use these words and phrases with countable and uncountable nouns. You’ll see how we use them in action and you’ll also see where we’ll be for the fireworks on this year’s July 4th holiday.

Click here to see our video on some and any.

Much, Many, A lot of and Lots

This lesson’s about some very common and really useful words.
Much and many.
And ‘a lot of’ and ‘lots of’.
We’ll show you how we use them with countable and uncountable nouns.
And we’ll also give you a tour of our deck.
Our deck?
Yeah. You’ll love it.

We live in Philadelphia in a small house with lots of stairs.
There are four floors and then on top, we have a deck, so there are 5 floors really.
You have to climb up 56 stairs to get to the deck.
56?
Yes I counted them.
Well it’s worth it. We have a lot of fun up there. Let’s take a camera up and we’ll shoot some video.
Upstairs?
Yes! And you can bring a light too.
Pww.
This is our deck. We often have dinner up here in the summer.
There are a lot of stairs in this house.
Yes. This is our view. We’re in the middle of the city so there are lots of skyscrapers.
And there’s lots of noise out here.
Well yes. There’s lots of traffic.
Behind those buildings is the Philadelphia Museum of Art and on July 4th there’s a big fireworks display there.
We can see the fireworks because they go up above the buildings so we’re going to have a little party and invite some friends over to watch.
Now, we haven’t invited many people because, well, there isn’t much space here.
But we can cook up here. This is Jay’s grill and it’s ridiculously large.
No, it’s not. It’s perfect.
How many hamburgers can you cook on this grill?
28.
And how many people can we seat at the table?
Six.
Exactly. It takes up too much room. It’s dirty too, Jay. You need to clean it.
But it’s so much work.
How much gas is in the tank?
Let me check. Ah. There isn’t much, but I have another tank downstairs.
Well if you go and get it, I’ll show everyone the kitchen. Come with me. There used to be a cupboard here but we took it out and built a little kitchen with a sink and a little fridge. There isn’t much room, but we can keep cold drinks in here. Hmm. We don’t have much beer, but I’ll get some more before the party.
There are too many stairs in this house.
Well done. Come and sit down and have a beer.
Oh, thank you. Happy July 4th everyone.
Happy 4th.

OK. You heard lots of examples of these words and phrases. Let’s start with ‘a lot of’. We use it to talk about a large number or quantity, and we use it with plural countable nouns and uncountable nouns.
Another phrase we use is ‘lots of’.

We’re in the middle of the city so there are lots of skyscrapers.
And there’s lots of noise out here.
Well yes. There’s lots of traffic.

‘A lot of’ and ‘lots of’ mean the same thing. Lots of is a little more informal, but it’s the same.
We can make our positive sentences into negatives. That works.
Or we can make them into questions. That works too.
Now, I have a question. Can you say: ‘There are many skyscrapers’ or ‘There is much traffic’?
Technically yes, because many and much mean ‘a lot of’. BUT we don’t. These sentences sound strange and unnatural and formal. You don’t want to sound like that. To sound natural say ‘a lot of’ or ‘lots of’ in positive sentences like these.
Written English is a little different. Let’s look at an example.
So this is written English, and it’s fairly formal. Here’s what we’d probably say, if we were speaking.

A lot of people like to visit their family for the July 4th holiday. So lots of Americans spend a lot of time traveling.

So positive sentences – say ‘a lot of’ or ‘lots of’.
Only say much and many in negative sentences and questions.

There isn’t much room, but we can keep cold drinks in here. Hmm. We don’t have much beer.

These are negative sentences and I said much.
Notice the word room. It’s not a room like a bedroom or living room in a house. It’s a different meaning. Room means space here and it’s an uncountable noun. With uncountables like room and beer, say much. With countables, say many.

Now, we haven’t invited many people because, well, there isn’t much space here.

People is an irregular plural. One person, two people. So it’s many with countables, like people and much with uncountables, like space.
Let’s look at some questions now.

How many hamburgers can you cook on this grill?
28
And how many people can we seat at the table?
Six.
How much gas is in the tank?
Let me check. Ah. There isn’t much.

If you’re asking about countables like hamburgers, ask how many.
And if it’s uncountable, like gas, ask how much.
Now I have another question. We normally only use much and many in negative sentences and questions. BUT, are there any exceptions? Are there any positive sentences where we say much and many? Yes, there are, and you heard some.

It takes up too much room. It’s dirty too, Jay. You need to clean it.
But it’s so much work.
There are too many stairs in this house.

We can use the phrases ‘too much’ and ‘too many’ and ‘so much’ and ‘so many’ in positive sentences. That’s the exception.
And that’s it.
Wow Vicki. That was ‘a lot’ of grammar.
Yeah, I hope it wasn’t ‘too much’. If you liked this video please share it with ‘lots of’ friends.
And I have a question for everyone.
What’s that?
Do you have a deck? Tell us in the comments below. What’s it like?
Or do you have a garden?
She means a yard.
We don’t have a garden but we love our deck.
Yes and I can’t wait for the fourth of July. Bye-bye everyone.
Bye.
Click here to see our video on some and any.

Some and Any – Three rules you need to know

Some and Any – Three rules you need to know

Some and Any – do you know how to use these words with countable and uncountable nouns? In this video you’ll learn three important grammar rules that will help you get them right.
You’ll also learn how we make lentil soup!

Click here to see our video on much , many, a lot of and lots of.
Click here to learn how we use the uncountable noun ‘travel’.
Click here to see more grammar videos.

Some and Any – countable and uncountable nouns

In this lesson we’re looking at how we use some and any in English.
And you’re also going to see how we make lentil soup.
We’ve had a lot of requests for this one.
What? Lentil soup?
No! Some and any.
Before we start, here’s a quick reminder about countable and uncountable nouns. In English some nouns are countable.

One, two. Two onions
Three carrots.

And some English nouns are uncountable. We can’t count them.

Salt.
Soup.

Countable nouns can be singular or plural. We use a singular verb form with singular nouns and a plural verb form with plural nouns. Uncountable nouns always take a singular verb form.
Great! So now we’re ready for some work with some and any.
We use both these words with countable AND uncountable nouns. So let’s get cooking and see them in action.

We’re making lentil soup today. It’s great for vegetarians and vegans.
Jay went vegan about six months ago. So he doesn’t eat any meat or any fish.
And no dairy products. So no cow’s milk or cheese.
Or eggs.
That’s right. I don’t eat any food that had a face or a mother.
OK. Here are some of our ingredients. We have some lentils, some celery and an onion.
An old onion. And a hot pepper.
Can you get some carrots out of the fridge?
How many?
About three or four.
OK.
And do we have any tomatoes?
No.
It doesn’t matter. And is there any stock?
Erm. There’s some.
Oh good. I’ve got some here.
How old is it?
It smells OK.
Stock is a liquid we use in soup.
It’s made by cooking meat or bones in water.
But this wasn’t made with meat?
No, this was made with vegetables.
Great. I’ll cut up the onion and you can cut up the celery.
OK.
So I was surprised when Jay went vegan because you used to love meat and fish. Why did you go vegan?
It was for health reasons. It’s good for my heart and I’ve lost weight. About seventeen pounds so far.
Excellent. So if you want to lose some weight, go vegan.
It’s good for the environment and for animals, of course.
Finished?
Yes.
OK. This soup is very simple. We just put the vegetables in the pot. Add some stock and cook it.
Shall I add all the lentils?
Um, just some.
OK.
Let’s try it.
OK. We need a spoon.
Oh, there aren’t any in the drawer.
Look in the dishwasher.
Sure. This one?
Yes. Any spoon will do. You try it.
Sure. Hmm. It’s a bit tasteless.
Mmm. Can you get me some salt?
Sure. Do you want some pepper too?
Yes.
Oh. And we forgot the hot pepper.
Oh. Let’s put some in.
Vicki said ‘some’. But I think I’ll put it all in.
We’re going to try it again. [Panting noises.]

So what do these words mean and when do we use them? We’ll start with ‘some’. We use some to talk about a limited number or quantity.

Shall I add all the lentils?
Um, just some.
OK.
Vicki said ‘some’. But I think I’ll put it all in.

So some means a limited amount. Not all. And we use it with PLURAL countable nouns and uncountable nouns. But not singular countable nouns. With singular countables, we say ‘a’ or ‘one’.

How can everyone tell if a noun is countable or uncountable?
Good question. You just have to learn them one by one, but we’ll make another video about that later.
It’s interesting because salt and rice are uncountable, but lentils are countable.
Yes. Lentils are countable.
One lentil, two lentils, three lentils, four lentils, five lentils, six lentils, seven lentils.…
Pwww!

We use some when we don’t know or we don’t want to say an exact number or quantity.

906, 907, 908, 909…
Jay, let’s just say there are some lentils.
There are some lentils.

So ‘some’ is vague. It means a number bigger than one, but it’s indefinite.

Can you get some carrots out of the fridge?
How many?
About three or four.
OK.
And is there any stock?
Erm. There’s some.
Oh good.

Now, what about ‘any’? Any is similar. Again it’s an indefinite number or quantity and again, we use it with plural countable and uncountable nouns. But any also has a negative meaning. Any can mean none.

Jay went vegan about six months ago. So he doesn’t eat any meat or any fish.
And no dairy products. So no cow’s milk or cheese.
Or eggs.
That’s right. I don’t eat any food that had a face or a mother.

So Jay doesn’t eat any meat, any fish, any eggs. It means he eats none of them.
So now you know the meanings of some and any and it’s time to lean some grammar rules.
Here’s a useful basic rule. Use some in positive sentences. Use any in negative sentences and questions. This rule doesn’t work all the time but it’s a great starting point. If I have elementary students, I teach them this rule.

We have some lentils, some celery and an onion.
We need a spoon.
Oh, there aren’t any in the drawer.
Do we have any tomatoes?
Ermm, no.

So this is the basic rule you want to follow in positive sentences, negatives and questions. Are there exceptions to this rule? Of course! An important one is requests and offers. They’re special.

Can you get me some salt?
Sure. Do you want some pepper too?

So here’s rule two. In questions where we’re asking for things, or offering things, we say some. So in normal questions you’d say any, but if the questions are requests or offers, say some. Got it?
Good, because now we’re going to shift up a level for rule three. Are you ready?
We use ‘any’ in positive sentences when we mean ‘it doesn’t matter which one’.

Look in the dishwasher.
Sure. This one?
Yes. Any spoon will do.

There are lots of spoons in the dishwasher. It doesn’t matter which one you choose because they’re all OK. Another example.

I’m hungry.
Well there’s soup in the fridge.
Oh really? What’s this?
Tomato soup. And there’s pea soup and also lentil soup.
Which one can I have?
Any one you like. They’re all vegan.

So any can mean it’s all the same. It doesn’t matter which one. As your English goes up in level, you’re going to find this useful. So make sure you’ve subscribed to our channel, so we can tell you more about it.
And in the meantime these are the key rules you need to know about some and any.
If you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend.
Yes. See you all next week, everyone.
Bye.
Bye-bye.
Click here to see our video on much , many, a lot of and lots of.
Click here to learn how we use the uncountable noun ‘travel’.
Click here to see more grammar videos.

Too and enough – how to use these useful English words

Too and enough – how to use these useful English words

We hope you have enough time to watch this video!
Too and enough are really useful words that you can use with nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.
In this video you’ll learn how enough means sufficient and not enough means needing more. Too many and too much mean more than sufficient or more than is necessary.
You’ll also learn about word order. We use too before adjectives and adverbs and enough after them.

Click here to see more grammar videos.
Click here to learn how to use the words hard and hardly.

Too and enough

You’re not getting enough sleep.
Yes, I think I’m working too hard.
I think you go to bed too late.

These are two very common and very useful words. Let’s start with enough.

Oh good. You got some bottled water.
Is it enough?
Yes, plenty.
Good.

We use ‘enough’ to say we have as much or as many as we need or want, so a sufficient quantity.

Oh, I’m almost out of gas.
Do you have enough to get to a petrol station?
A petrol station?
A gas station.

If we don’t have enough, we don’t have the amount we need.

Do you want to come for lunch?
I can’t. I don’t have enough time.
Ah, too busy, eh?
Yeah.

So enough means having the necessary amount of something. Now, what about too?

Spaghetti.
Oh, that’s too much.
Let’s have some chocolates.
Ooo yes. But not too many.
You can never have too many chocolates.

We use ‘too’ to say more than sufficient, more than necessary, or more than is good.

This bag’s too big for carry on.
Well, yes.
You’re not getting enough sleep.
Yes. I think I’m working too hard.
I think you go to bed too late.

Notice the word position. We use ‘too’ before adjectives and adverbs but we use ‘enough’ after them.
So too comes before.
Enough comes after.

This lid is too tight. I’m not strong enough.
This knife’s too blunt. It’s not sharp enough.
This lid is too tight. I’m not strong enough.
This knife’s too blunt. It’s not sharp enough. Try this.

So that’s how to use too and enough. I hope this lesson wasn’t too difficult. Was it easy enough?
If you’ve enjoyed it, please share this video with a friend. At Simple English Videos we believe you can learn faster if you can see English in action, so we have lots of conversations, that show you what people say in the real world. We publish a new video every Friday, so subscribe to our channel for more! Bye now!

Click here to see more grammar videos.
Click here to learn how to use the words hard and hardly.

Hope and Wish Part Two – Past situations

Hope and Wish Part Two – Past situations

Learn the different meanings and grammar of the English verbs ‘hope’ and ‘wish’ in this video lesson. This is an important lesson if you’re talking an English exam like IELTS, Cambridge First Certificate or TOEFL. They often have questions on these verbs because the grammar is tricky.
You’ll see lots of examples in action and get clear explanations in this video lesson. This is the second part of a two-part lesson on these verbs. In part one you learnt how we use them to talk about present situations. In part two you’ll learn about past situations.

Click here to see part one on how we use hope and wish to talk about present situations.
Click here to find out how we use wish and hope to give good wishes to someone.
Click here to find out how we use hope, wait, expect and look forward to to talk about the future.

Hope vs Wish – past situations

If you’re taking a Cambridge exam like IELTS or First Certificate, or if you’re taking TOEFL, this is an important lesson because they often set questions about these verbs. I think they do it because the grammar’s tricky. So let’s work on it and take your English up a level.
This is the second part of our video on wish and hope. In part one, we looked at how we use these verbs to talk about present situations. If you haven’t seen it, you might want to watch that video before you watch this one.
In this video we’re going to look at how we talk about hopes and wishes in the past.
Let’s start with hope.

How’s it going?
Oh OK. But I’ve got so much to do.
Do you want a hand?
Oh thank you. I hoped he’d say that.

So before Jay arrived, I was thinking ‘I hope Jay can help me’.
And I’m talking about a hope I had in the past here. Notice I said ‘would’. So the past tense of hope and then ‘would’.
We often use the contracted form of ‘would’, so it can be difficult to spot.
In this example, we have the simple past form of hope, but we can use other past forms. Let’s see some.

This is our dog Carter.
We adopted him six years ago. Now he’s eight years old now and he’s a wonderful dog.
He drives me crazy because he barks a lot when people come to the door.
He does get a little excited.
We were hoping he’d calm down as he got older.
And that’s what happened.
No, it didn’t.
Yes, it did.
He still goes crazy when the postman comes.
Yeah. We had hoped that he’d stop barking at the mailman, but that didn’t happen. Well, he doesn’t like the mailman. Do you?

So in the past we thought it was possible that Carter would calm down as he got older. Jay thinks he has calmed down, but I don’t.
I said ‘we were hoping he’d calm down’. I could also say ‘we hoped he’d calm down’. That works too.
And you heard another past form of hope.

He still goes crazy when the postman comes.
Yeah. We had hoped that he’d stop barking at the mailman, but that didn’t happen.

We used the past perfect – had hoped. The past perfect indicates that this action didn’t happen. Carter still barks at the mail man.
If we say ‘hoped’ or was ‘hoping’, the action might have happened or might not. It’s not specific.
But if we say ‘had hoped’, it means the action didn’t happen.
So use these structures to talk about past hopes. And if you want to make it clear that an action didn’t happen, use the past perfect.
That’s the verb ‘hope’, but what about ‘wish’? We use ‘wish’ to talk about imaginary situations – improbable or impossible things. Let’s see how that works in the past.

You’re in a good mood.
Yes, I’m playing tennis this afternoon.
Oh, what about the sales meeting?
What sales meeting?
Did I forget to tell you? There’s a sales meeting this afternoon and Kathy wants everyone there.
But I’ve booked a tennis court and everyone’s coming.
Oh, that’s a shame.
I wish you’d told me.

I didn’t tell Jay about the meeting and he’s unhappy about that. He says ‘I wish you’d told me’.
Now, what’s that contraction? Is it would or had? It’s had. We’re using the past perfect again.
We use wish and the past perfect to express regrets about the past – to talk about things that didn’t happen, but we wish they had happened.

I wish Vicki had told me about the sales meeting.
I’m so tired. I wish I’d gone to bed earlier last night.
I wish we hadn’t eaten all those cookies.
Yeah, I’m feeling a little sick now.

These are all things that didn’t happen and we regret them now. We’re not happy about them.
I didn’t tell Jay about the sales meeting. I went to bed late last night and we ate all those cookies.
So if you wish something had happened, it didn’t happen.
And if wish something hadn’t happened, it did happen.
You have to switch positives to negatives, and vice versa, to imagine something unreal.
And remember the verb form here. It’s the past perfect.
Do these structures remind you of anything? They’re similar to third conditional structures – the conditionals we use for unreal and imaginary situations in the past.

Now you have to make a wish and blow out all the candles with one breath. Now take a big breath.

The idea of wishing is if you imagine something enough it will come true by magic. But of course magic isn’t real. When we say ‘I wish… ‘, we distance ourselves from reality and we do that grammatically by shifting back a tense. The same thing happens in 2nd and 3rd conditionals. They’re unreal too.
OK, one more thing before we stop, do you remember this phrase?
‘If only’ is like ‘I wish’, but it’s more emphatic. It means ‘I really wish’. We can use it to talk about present and past situations. Let’s see some past examples.

If only we hadn’t eaten all those cookies.
If only I’d studied harder at school.
If only I’d invested in Apple twenty years ago. I’d be rich now.

So again, these things didn’t happen. Jay ate the cookies. He didn’t study harder and he didn’t invest in Apple. But he’s wishing things were different. ‘If only’ means it’s a strong wish.
And that’s it. It was a lot of grammar so let’s review.
We use ‘hope’ with ‘would’ to talk about past hopes. You can use different past forms of hope. ‘Hoped’ and ‘was hoping’ aren’t specific. You can use them for things that happened or things that didn’t happen. If something didn’t happen and you want to be specific, use the past perfect form of ‘hope’.
If you’re talking about past wishes, use ‘wish’ and the past perfect. Switch positives to negatives and vice versa, to make things unreal
And if you want to add emphasis, use ‘if only’. ‘If only’ is followed by the same structures as ‘I wish…’
So now you know how we use the verbs ‘wish’ and ‘hope’ in English. Please share this lesson with a friend if you found it useful. Subscribe to our channel and click the notification bell so you don’t miss our future videos. Bye now.

This is Carter.
We adopted him when he was six years old. Now he’s eight.
He barks a lot when people come to the door.
He gets a little excited.
This is Carter.
We adopted him six years ago.

Click here to see part one on how we use hope and wish to talk about present situations.
Click here to find out how we use wish and hope to give good wishes to someone.
Click here to find out how we use hope, wait, expect and look forward to to talk about the future.

Hope and Wish – Part One – Present situations

Hope and Wish – Part One – Present situations

Learn the different meanings and grammar of the English verbs ‘hope’ and ‘wish’ in this video lesson. With clear examples and explanations you can master the tricky grammar. In part one you’ll learn about present situations.
You’ll learn three structures we commonly use with hope and three with wish, and you’ll also learn how to use the phrase if only to add emphasis.

Click here to see past two on how we use hope and wish to talk about past situations.
Click here to find out how we use wish and hope to give good wishes to someone.
Click here to find out how we use hope, wait, expect and look forward to to talk about the future.

Hope or wish? How to talk about present situations

We’ve had requests for a video about these verbs. There’s a lot to cover so we’re breaking it into two parts. We’ve already made another video about how we use these verbs to wish people nice things. You can see it here.
In this video we’re looking at different structures we use with wish and hope to talk about present situations. We’ll look at three structures with hope and three with wish and we’ll also look at another phrase you can use.
Wish and hope. We use both these verbs to say what we want or would like to happen. The difference is how possible or likely it is. With hope, there’s a real possibility.

I’m expecting a baby. I hope it’s a boy.

Is it possible she’ll have a boy? Yes. There’s a fifty-fifty chance. Notice the structure. After hope she used a present tense, but she was talking about a future event.
She could also say ‘I hope it will be a boy.’ That works too. But we often use the present tense because the verb hope already implies the future.
OK. Let’s look at another structure.

Are you going to go to college, Ksenia?
Yes, I’m hoping to study animal behavior.
Oh you’ll be great at that.

So Ksenia wants to study animal behavior. She isn’t sure if she can yet, but again, it’s a real possibility.
Notice she said hoping. She could also say I hope to study animal behavior. That’s correct too, but we often use hope in the progressive or continuous form.
And notice that ‘to’. We can follow hope with an infinitive form of a verb.
You can say ‘I hope to go to college’, or ‘I’m hoping to go to college’. But you can’t say ‘I hope go to college’. You need the ‘to’.
Great. So these are the key structures we use to talk about hopes we have in the present and we use them all to talk about future possibilities.
Now what about wish? Again we use wish for things we want to happen, but this time, it’s things that are not probable, or they’re things that can’t happen.

Hey, how’s it going.
I’m feeling a little down.
Ah. Well I just met our new neighbor.
Oh yeah, what’s he like?
His name is Tom and he speaks six languages.
Wow, how old is he?
About thirty.
Hmmm.
What’s the matter?
I wish I spoke six languages and I wish I were younger.
Oh, don’t be sad about it.
Hmmm.
I wish I knew how to cheer you up.

It’s impossible for Jay to be younger. He doesn’t speak six languages. And I don’t know how to cheer him up.
They’re things we want to happen, but they’re impossible. We’re sad about that so they’re things we regret.
So hopes are about real possibilities, but these wishes are about imaginary things and they express regrets.
Another way to think about the difference is hope is more optimistic than wish. If you’re optimistic, you think good things can happen. But if you’re pessimistic, you think they can’t, or they’re very unlikely.
So what’s the structure here?

I wish I were younger
I wish I spoke six languages.
I wish I knew how to cheer Jay up.

After wish we use a past tense verb. These are wishes we have in the present, but the past tense indicates it’s an imaginary or unreal situation.
Another thing. Notice Jay said ‘I were’, not ‘I was’. Normally the past tense of the verb ‘be’ goes I was… You were… He was… But after ‘wish’ we say ‘were’. Why? We just do. If you want to look it up, it’s called a subjunctive, but trust me. You don’t need to know. Just remember, with the verb be, use ‘were’ after wish. And if you forget, it’s no big deal. Native speakers often say ‘I wish I was…’ and ‘I wish he was…’. BUT if you’re taking an English exam like IELTS or TOEFL or Cambridge First Certificate, say were. They often have questions about the verb wish and you’ll need to be grammatically correct.
OK, ready for another one? There’s another structure we often use with ‘wish’. See if you can spot it.

You know I wish you would put the lid back on the toothpaste.
Hmph.
And I wish you wouldn’t leave the seat up on the toilet.
Hmph. You know what I wish.
What?
I wish you’d stop complaining.
Hmph.

I was complaining about Jay’s behavior. When we’re annoyed about something and we’re complaining, we use ‘wish’ with ‘would’.
We’re talking about something we’d like to happen, so this is similar to those wish sentences with the past tense. The difference is we want SOMETHING to change here, or we want SOMEONE to change their behavior.
Use wish with would when you’re annoyed about something and you want to complain.
OK, here’s a similar structure. This one’s easy. See if you can spot it.

I wish I could do that.

Jay said wish and could. So instead of would he said could.

I wish I could whistle.

We use would to talk about something we want to happen and could to talk about something we want to be able to do. Another example.

I wish we had more money, Jay.
Why?
Then we could go on vacation.
Yeah, Egypt.
Or Brazil.
Oh, I wish we could go to Brazil.

We want to travel but it’s impossible because we can’t afford it. Again we’re talking about something we regret here. We often use wish to to express regrets.
OK, now before we stop, there’s another phrase you’ll often hear – If only.

Do you think Carter likes it when I stroke his back?
Yes, I think he does.
I wish we knew what he was thinking.
Yeah, if only he could talk.

‘I wish’ and ‘If only’ mean the same thing, but ‘If only’ is a little stronger. We use it to express a strong wish. You can use it with all the same structures as wish, when you want to add emphasis.
And that’s it – that was the final phrase!
Phew! That was a lot of grammar, so let’s review. We looked at three structures with hope. We use these structures to talk about things that we want to happen in the future and they’re things that are possible.
And then we looked at three structures with wish. Again, things we want to happen, but this time they’re things that are impossible or unlikely to happen.
And then we looked at the phrase ‘if only’. We use this phrase with the same structures as wish when we want to express a strong feeling.
So now you know how we use hope and wish to talk about present situations. But what about past situations? We’re going to look at them in another video. So make sure you’ve subscribed to our channel and clicked the notification bell, so you don’t miss it.
If you’ve enjoyed this lesson, please share it with a friend and see you next Friday. Bye now.

Click here to see past two on how we use hope and wish to talk about past situations.
Click here to find out how we use wish and hope to give good wishes to someone.
Click here to find out how we use hope, wait, expect and look forward to to talk about the future.