10 phrasal verbs we use to talk about food and eating

Learn 10 phrasal verbs we use to talk about food and eating, like run out of, cut down on and polish off. You’ll see how we use them in action and also learn about English food that Vicki can’t find in the US.

Click here to learn 24 essential phrasal verbs for computers and technology
Click here to learn 8 common separable phrasal verbs
Click here to see our grammar videos

Phrasal verbs for food video

So something very exciting has arrived in the post. It’s a parcel full of British stuff.
Vicki orders this box every year so that she has British foods and British goods for all our friends.
Yes. It’s lots of food that I can’t buy in America.

This lesson is about phrasal verbs that we use to talk about food and eating. A great way to learn the meanings of phrasal verbs is to see them in action and so we’re going to play a game. Watch us unwrapping our parcel and see how many phrasal verbs you can spot. You’ll hear ten that are connected with food. Ready?

OK, so first one. Here we go. What do you think, Jay?
Oh my goodness! I know what’s in here. These are what you call ‘sweets’.
That’s right. And you call them candies.
Candies. And these are chocolate, right?
Yes. They’re chocolate.
Oh wow. I can’t wait to have some.
No, you’re not having any because you’ve got to cut down on chocolate.
Oh no.
Yeah, you eat too much of it.
OK, next one. I’m going to give them to our friends. Next one. Baked beans!
Now this is really very interesting. This company, Heinz, is based in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, three hundred and fifty miles from where we are in Philadelphia.
Yeah, but the American baked beans that you can buy in the stores here have too much sugar, I think.
So Vicki gets her baked beans imported from the United Kingdom.
You can snack on them any time you like. They’re great.
I like them too.
OK, what have we got next? Oooo. I love these. I could live on them. Can you see them?
I can see them. What are they?
Pickled onions.
Pickled onions.
Yeah.
How strange!
I’ve given you these before. They’re lovely. And they’re just onions that have been pickled in vinegar.
[sigh]
When I say ‘pickle’ what do you think of?
Well, a pickle to me is a small cucumber that’s been kept in brine or vinegar. That’s a pickle.
OK. We call that a gherkin. And our pickles are things like this. Like this is Branston pickle. It’s a bit like a chutney.
But it’s not a pickle at all!
My English friends will wolf this down.
You can use it to make ploughman’s lunches.
A ploughman’s lunch.
Yeah. Bread, cheese and Branston pickle.
OK.
OK. Next thing.
Mmmhmm.
It’s gravy granules! OK, now gravy is like a sauce that we serve with meat, and English people love gravy.
I mean I love gravy on chicken and on beef, but one of these says onion gravy.
Yeah, it goes well with sausages.
Hmm.
OK. Next one. Errr. Oh, and speaking of gravy, something similar. I’ve got some lamb stock cubes.
Now this is also very interesting. This company makes stock cubes and you can find them on the shelves of American stores. But not lamb stock cubes. Americans don’t buy those. And so for Vicki, who makes wonderful lamb dishes, for them to be just as wonderful as I like them, she has to have lamb stock cubes. How many of these packages did you buy?
Errr, nine. I didn’t want to run out.
Good thinking.
OK. Next one?
Mmhmm.
Right. Oh, you’re going to like this one, Jay. Look. Mince pies. These are little sweet pies that have got… Do you know what’s inside them?
I think there’s some jam and some nuts and some …?
It’s currants and sultanas and dried fruit, and they’re lovely.
So here’s a very interesting thing. ‘Mince’ in British English refers to meat that has been chopped up, like you would make hamburgers with.
You call it ‘chopped meat’.
Chopped meat, right.
OK.
So when first I heard the term ‘mince pies’, I assumed there was chopped meat in it.
No. They’re sweet, and they go very well with custard. I think we’ve got some… ha ha… custard! Here we go. This is what I’ll serve up with the mince pies. I’ll serve it warm.
I love it when you pour warm custard over mince pies. It is delicious.
OK. Ready for another one?
Yes. Yes.
OK. I think we’re getting near the end now. But hang on. What’s this? Aha! Tada!
Oh, Christmas crackers.
OK. These are not crackers you eat. They’re made of paper and I need to make another video about these too because they’re full of jokes and hats and things like that.
I’ll give you a hint. When you pull them apart they go ‘boom!’.
That’s right. They blow up. No, they don’t blow up. But they do make a popping noise.
A bang.
A bang.
Great! OK. Well, I’m ready for Christmas now.
Well, wait a minute.
Oh, what’s that?
More mince pies, right?
We’re going to pig out on them.
I don’t know if we can finish this.
I’m sure we can. We’ll get our friends to polish them off if we can’t.
Perfect. What a great idea.

The first one was cut down. If you cut down on a particular food then you reduce the amount you consume. For example, I’m trying to cut down on sugar so I lose weight.

Yes. They’re chocolate.
Oh wow. I can’t wait to have some.
No, you’re not having any because you’ve got to cut down on chocolate.
Oh no.
Yeah, you eat too much of it.

We can also say cut out – but that means stop eating or consuming something completely. People often try to cut out caffeine or sugar or bread and carbs.
OK, next one. Snack on. Now a snack is a small amount of food that we eat between meals, often when we’re in a hurry. So when we snack on something, we eat a small amount of something as a snack.

So Vicki gets her baked beans imported from the United Kingdom.
You can snack on them any time you like. They’re great.
I like them too.

Baked beans are a nice snack, but I wouldn’t want to live on them. Pickled onions on the other hand are wonderful. They’re so good, I think I could live on them. To live on is when you only eat one food, or you eat a lot of it.

Oooo. I love these. I could live on them. Can you see them?

OK, next one. Now a wolf is an animal – it’s a member of the dog family. But what about wolf down? This is all about speed. If you wolf down your food you eat it very fast. Perhaps because you’re hungry, or you’re in a rush, or maybe you just like the food so much that you eat it very fast.

But it’s not a pickle at all!
My English friends will wolf this down.

Next one. If different foods taste good when you serve them together then they go well together. Syrup goes well with pancakes. And peaches and ice cream go well together. The combination works.

I mean I love gravy on chicken and on beef, but one of these says onion gravy.
Yeah, it goes well with sausages.
Hmm.

Next one. If we run out of something, we use it up so it’s finished, and we don’t have any more left. I don’t want to run out of lamb stock cubes.

She has to have lamb stock cubes. How many of these packages did you buy?
Errr, nine. I didn’t want to run out.
Good thinking.

Next one. Perhaps you know the verb chop. When we chop food, we cut it into small pieces. But we also say chop up and it means the same thing. Why don’t we just say chop? I don’t know. Sometimes English is tricky. like that.

‘Mince’ in British English refers to meat that has been chopped up, like you would make hamburgers with.
You call it ‘chopped meat’.
Chopped meat, right.
OK.

So we can say ‘chop’ or ‘chop up’ and the next verb is similar. We can say ‘serve’ or ‘serve up’. Waiters serve us in a restaurant when they give us our food or drink. And when we’re talking about eating at home, we’ll often say serve up – it’s when we give food to someone as part of a meal.

I think we’ve got some… ha ha… custard! Here we go. This is what I’ll serve up with the mince pies. I’ll serve it warm.

OK, we’re near the end now. Just two more.
Pig out means to eat a very large amount of food all at once. Probably too much. You’ll feel very full if you’ve pigged out. It’s informal, so you can use this verb with close friends, but probably not people you don’t know very well.

Oh, what’s that?
More mince pies, right?
We’re going to pig out on them.

And the last one. Now ‘to polish’ means to make something shiny and smooth by rubbing it. We might polish a floor. But polish off has a completely different meaning. It means to have the last of some food, so to eat what’s left and finish it. Again it’s informal.

I don’t know if we can finish this.
I’m sure we can. We’ll get our friends to polish them off if we can’t.
Perfect. What a great idea.

Now there was just one other phrasal verb you heard that wasn’t about food. It was when we were talking about the Christmas crackers. Did you spot it? Tell us in the comments if you did. And what did you think of these English foods? Would you like to try some? Let us know. We love hearing from you.
We make a new video every Friday so subscribe to this channel, if you haven’t already, and click the bell so you can get notified when we upload a new video. Have a great week everyone and see you next Friday.
Click here to learn 24 essential phrasal verbs for computers and technology
Click here to learn 8 common separable phrasal verbs
Click here to see our grammar videos

Look like, Be like and Be alike – the preposition like

Look like, Be like and Be alike – we can use all these phrases to say things are similar. Do you know how to use them correctly?

In this video we’ll look at ways we commonly use the preposition like and fix a common mistake. You’ll also learn how you can use ‘like’ with lots of other sense verbs too. Wow! That’s going to expand your vocabulary!

Click here to learn when to use watch look or see
Click here to learn the difference between like the preposition and like the verb
Click here to learn more about English sense verbs

Look like, Be like, Alike video script

Is it lunch time yet?
Yeah, I feel like a sandwich.
That’s funny.
Why?
You don’t look like a sandwich.

‘Look’,‘like’, look like! You’ll often hear these words used together in English. In this lesson we’re going to check how to use them correctly and fix some common mistakes. So what does ‘like’ mean?

I like flowers.

When we like things they give us pleasure. But ‘like’ is a verb here. It’s not the meaning we’re going to look at today. Forget it. We’re going to look at ‘like’ the preposition.
I made another video about ‘like’ some time ago and I’ll put a link to it here. It’s very simple so you might want to watch it first. In this video we’re going to move up a step.
So ‘like’ the preposition – What does it mean?

This is our house. And this is our neighbour’s house. Our house is like our neighbour’s house. They’re not exactly the same but they’re very similar.

If two things are similar, they are like each other. Use like to say things are similar. Now you can also say ‘looks like’.

Our house looks like our neighbour’s house.

When do we say ‘is like’ and when do we say ‘looks like’? ‘Looks like’ is more specific. It’s only about physical appearance.
Here are the question forms. ‘What’s it like?’ means tell me about it. ‘What does it look like?’ means describe its appearance.

Have you seen my torch?
Your what?
My torch.
What does it look like?
It’s about this long and it’s red.
Ha1, ha. You mean your flashlight.
Yeah, my torch!

Now I’ve heard some students say ‘How does it look like?’ Don’t say that – it’s wrong. If you’re asking about physical appearance, say ‘what’. ‘What does it look like?’
Here’s another example.

Here’s a video of our granddaughter.
Oh she’s adorable. She looks like you.
Oh. She loves putting things in her mouth. Just like Jay.

So she looks like me. Her appearance and my appearance are similar.
And she’s just like Jay. Do they look similar? I don’t think so. The point is they behave in a similar way. They have another quality that’s similar.

OK, the next item on the agenda is the new employee.
Tell me about Philip.
Oh he’s very friendly and very bright. I think he’ll do well.
But he’s a Chicago Cubs fan.
That’s not the point, Jay. Kathy wants to know what he’s like.
Well, he’s six foot tall and he has brown hair.
She knows what he looks like.
I’m not interested in his appearance. What’s he like as a person?
Well he’s a Chicago Cubs fan.
So?
Well, they’re never gonna win the world series.
He’s not very smart.

So these questions mean slightly different things. Which one means ‘give me your opinion of him?’. This one. And which one means ‘describe his physical appearance’? This one. Great!
Now there’s an important grammar pattern that you need to follow. After ‘look’ we generally use an adjective. But after ‘look like’, we don’t. We always use a noun or noun phrase. Let’s look at some examples.

This guy looks serious. And this guy looks a bit goofy. This guy looks impatient, or maybe worried. And this guy looks bored.
But this guy looks like he’s having fun. And this guy – wow – he looks like a chicken!

So after ‘look’ we use adjectives. All these words are adjectives. But ‘looks like’ is different. You can’t say he looks like serious or he looks like worried. These sentences are wrong. After looks like, use a noun or a noun phrase.
Let’s check you’ve understood? Here are four sentences, but one of them is wrong. Which one? Can you spot it? It’s the third one. Adorable is an adjective. After ‘looks like’, you have to use a noun.
Great!
Our house and our neighbour’s house are alike.
When two or more things are the same or very similar you can say they are alike.

I hate all men. You’re all alike.
No, not all of us.
OK, so maybe you’re better than most. Maybe not.

So which man was it? Let me see.
So what do you think? It’s very hard. They all look alike!

So let’s review.
You can say one thing is like another – they share similar qualities
You can say one thing looks like another – they have the same physical appearance
And there’s a pattern to follow. After ‘look’, use an adjective. And after ‘look like’, use a noun.
And that’s it. Now you know how to use ‘look’ with ‘like’.
Now there’s one more thing that’s very cool. ‘Look’ is just one of a group of sense verbs you can combine with ‘like’ and they all work the same way.
Just follow the basic pattern and there are lots more expressions that you can use. It’s great!
So let’s finish with a couple of examples? Which sense verbs are used with ‘like’ in this conversation?

What’s orange and sounds like parrot? Carrot. A carrot rhymes with parrot. Ha! Come on.
Jay, we’re trying to work.
What’s red and smells like blue paint? Red paint. Get it? Red paint. Ha!
Jay, I’ve got one for you.
Yeah?
What’s loud and sounds like shut up?
I don’t know, what?
Shut up.

Can I tell them to hit the subscribe button now?
Yeah, go on. Subscribe! Subscribe!

Click here to learn when to use watch look or see
Click here to learn the difference between like the preposition and like the verb
Click here to learn more about English sense verbs
Click here to download Fix it – our free checklist that will help you avoid common mistakes.

Causative Verbs – Make, Let, Have and more. (2 videos)

When we want to indicate that one thing causes another, we generally use a causative verb. These verb are very common and useful in English, but not always easy to use correctly.

There’s a lot to cover so this is a two part lesson. In the first video we see lots of examples and check the meanings of the most common English causative verbs (make, let, and have). In the second video we look at the grammar structures, so you know the patterns to follow to avoid mistakes.

VIDEO ONE

English causative verbs script video one

What’s that for?
I’m going to hypnotize you
Really?
Yes. Just look at the pendant.
OK.
And let your body relax.
You’re not going to make me do anything stupid, are you?
Oh no.

Hi everyone! In this lesson we’re looking at causative verbs. So what are causative verbs?
Well, sometimes things just happen. And sometimes other people or things make them happen. They cause them to happen. When we want to talk about that, we use causative verbs. So they’re verbs about causing things and there are lots of them.
There’s a lot to cover here so in part one of this lesson we’re going to look at the most common ones and what they mean, and in part two we’ll look the patterns they follow. They’re a bit unusual, so we’ll fix some common mistakes.
Let’s start with most common verb. Make. One of the meanings of make is cause. For example, cold temperatures make water freeze. Hot air makes balloons rise. One thing causes another. It makes it happen.

Jay, do these jeans make my bum look big?
Err, yep.
Oh!
Oh. They make you look great.

Only you could make a woman feel like this. All I want is to be in your arms, now and always.

We often use ‘make’ with adjectives to say what causes a feeling or state. For example, heights make me dizzy. Spiders make me nervous.

What’s this?
It’s marmite. It’s good for you. It makes you strong and healthy.
But it tastes terrible.
No, it doesn’t.

So the effect of eating marmite is you get stronger and healthier. We also use make to talk about forcing or requiring people to do things.

Jay this kitchen’s a mess. We need to clean it up before Graham and Carole come.
She always makes me clean up before guests come.

You’re not going to make me do anything stupid, are you?
Oh no.

So ‘make’ can mean cause, force or require. OK. Let’s look at another causative verb – have. See if you can work out what ‘have’ means here.

I love taking Carter out for his walk, but I’m not always home. When I’m not here, I have the dog walker take him out.

Can you work out what ‘have’ means? When we have someone do something, we make arrangements for them to do it. We don’t force them, but we give them the responsibility to do it. Perhaps we employ them and we can instruct them to do it.

The elevator’s broken down. I had to climb up ten flights of stairs.
Oh dear. Oh. Hello.
Vicki I’ve got a package for you, but the elevator’s broken down.
Yeah, I’ve just heard. Don’t worry I’ll have Jay carry it up.
It’s quite heavy.
Oh, no problem. I’ll have him come and collect it now.

OK, now we’re going to look at one more verb – let. It has a very different meaning to make and have. See if you can work out what it is.

I’ll let you have it.
Oh, thank you.

Come on Vicki. It’s time to go to the gym.
Oh, do we have to?
Yes, go and get ready. She’d sit here all day if I let her.

Just look at the pendant.
OK.
And let your body relax.

Did you get it? ‘Let’ means allow or permit. So when we make people do things, it’s often things they don’t want to do. But when we let people do things, it’s generally things they want to do.

What time do your parents make you go to bed?
At 10 o’clock.
10 o’clock. Is that a bit early for you?
Yes.
Do they ever let you stay up later than that?
No.
Ah, never mind

So let’s review. We use ‘make’ when we require people to do things they don’t want to do, and ‘let’ when we allow them to do things they do want to do, and we use ‘have’ when we arrange for people to do things.
And that’s it! Now you know the meanings of the three most common causative verbs. In part two, we’re going to go deeper and look at the grammar because these verbs follow an unusual pattern. So make sure you subscribe to this channel so you don’t miss it and see you next week!

VIDEO TWO

Causative verbs script video two

Welcome back to part two of our video on causative verbs. Last week we looked at the meanings of three common causative verbs. You can see part one here if you missed it. This week we’re going to look at some grammar and fix some common mistakes.
There are lots of causative verbs and ‘make’, ‘let’ and ‘have’ are the most common ones. They’re all irregular so it’s make, made, made, let, let, let and have, had, had. Easy, huh? The tricky thing is the pattern they follow when they’re causative verbs, and it’s this. There’s the causative verb, then the person who does the action, and then the action. Let’s see an example.

What does your dad do if the room is a mess – if your bedroom is a mess?
He makes me sort out my clothes and put them away.

‘Sort out’ and ‘put away’ are phrasal verbs. Sort out means organize and tidy and when we put things away we put them in the place they’re kept.

He makes me sort out my clothes and put them away.

Notice the structure here. There’s the causative verb, then the person who does the action, and then the action. It’s the same with the verb ‘let’.
Do your parents let you eat ice cream for breakfast?
Well actually, unfortunately, no.
No.
But they let me eat pancakes.
Notice the structure here. There’s the causative verb, then the person who does the action, and then the action. It’s the same with the verb ‘let’.

Do your parents let you eat ice cream for breakfast?
Well actually, unfortunately no.
No.
But they let me eat pancakes.
Oh well they’re very nice, aren’t they?
And some maple syrup.

So make and let follow the same structure. We’ve got the causative verb, the person who does the action, and then the action. Now here’s the thing. Suppose we change the verbs ‘make’ and ‘let’ to the verbs force and allow. They’re causative verbs too. If we use them the meaning stays the same, but look what happens to the structure.
There’s a ‘to’ there. But after make and let, we don’t say ‘to’. That’s strange. After most verbs we put ‘to’, but not with make and let. And it’s the same with the causative verb ‘have’.

Sometimes I walk Carter myself and sometimes I have the dog walker take him out

We could also say ‘get’ here. Get is another causative verb and it means the same thing as have, but the pattern is different.

Sometimes I get the dog walker to take Carter out.

In structures with ‘get’, we say to.

The elevator’s broken down. I had to climb up ten flights of stairs.
Oh dear. Oh. Hello?
Vicki, I’ve got a package for you, but the elevator’s broken down.
Yeah, I’ve just heard. Don’t worry. I’ll have Jay carry it up.
It’s quite heavy.
No problem. I’ll get him to come and collect it now.

So remember, ‘make’ ‘let’ and ‘have’ – we don’t say ‘to’. That’s the first tricky thing.
Now the next tricky thing. What about the past tense? If something happened in the past, which verb is going to take the tense? The causative verb or the other verb? Let’s see. We’ll watch a story and then I’ll ask you some questions about it.

And then the princess married the prince and they lived happily ever after.
Is that it?
Yeah, it’s time for you to go to sleep now.
Can’t I have one more?
All right then.
Layla, it’s time for you to go to sleep now.
We’re just going to read one more story.
Just one more.
Oh all right then.
Are you asleep?
Yep. He’s fast asleep.

OK, I’ve got two questions for you. First one. What did we let Layla do? We let her stay awake a little longer.

We let Layla have one more story. Perhaps it’ll make her sleepy

Next question. What made Layla’s dad sleepy? It was the book.

The story made him fall asleep.

So which verb took the past tense? The causative verb. The other verb doesn’t change. Let’s have another example.

Someone’s at the door. Can you make Carter go to his crate?
Sure. Carter, crate. Good boy. Down. Good boy.
Have they gone?
Yes, you can let him out now.
Carter, come. Good boy. Such a good boy.
So first we made Carter go to his crate and then we let him come out.

It’s the causative verb that takes the tense.
Great. Now there’s just one other thing you should know. It’s about the verbs ‘have’ and ‘get’. We often use them in the passive, so we talk about having things done and getting things done. We’ve made another video about that. Click here and you can watch it.
And make sure you subscribe to this channel because we have new videos every week. Watching our videos will MAKE your English rise to new levels! See you next Friday. Bye!

I have the dog walker…. hah hah. Sometimes I get the dog walker.. ha. I love taking Carter out for his… ha. Good boy. Turn around. Turn around. Hah hah hah. Sometimes I get the dog walker to take Carter out.

Click here to learn how we use the causative verbs ‘have’ and ‘get’
And click here to learn more English grammar
Click here to download Fix it – our free checklist that will help you avoid common mistakes.
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Can, Could and Be able to – modal verbs (2 videos)

Are you ABLE TO use these verbs: CAN, COULD and BE ABLE TO? Find out how to use them correctly in English here.

Click here to see more grammar videos
Click here to find out how we use can, could and may to ask for permission
Click here to learn how we pronounce can and could differently in British and American English
Click here to download Fix it – our free checklist that will help you avoid common mistakes.

Be able to, Can, Could video script

Are you ready for some English grammar? I hope so! We’ve had a lot of requests for a video about these three verbs. There’s a lot to cover so we’re going to split this video into two parts. And we’ll show you, step by step, how to use them in English.
We’re going to look at how we use these three words to talk about ability. We also use ‘can’ and ‘could’ to make requests and ask for permission. We have another video about that and I’ll put a link here. But this is about ability and possibility.
Let’s start with the most common verb: ‘can’. We use it to talk about things we’re able to do because of knowledge or skills that we have

Si, digame, cuando? Muy bien.
She can speak Spanish.

What are you doing?
I’m trying to whistle.
Oh I can do that.

It’s not just people that can do things. Things can too.

Our old coffee maker was very small so we bought a new one.
This machine can make six big cups.

So we use ‘can’ to say what’s possible.

Can you fix it?
I’m not sure, but it might be possible.

The negative form of can is ‘can’t’ and we use it to say things are impossible.

I can’t whistle.
Digame, cuando? I can’t speak Spanish.
I can’t fix it.

You’ve probably seen the word ‘cannot’, where can and not are written as one word. It’s a formal word and you’re more like to see it in written English. We don’t usually say it. We say ‘can’t’.
‘Can’ is a modal verb. We use it with the base form of other verbs – so the infinitive form, but without to. There’s no ‘s’ on the third person. We don’t use ‘do’ to make questions. We change the word order instead. And we add ‘not’ to make the negative.
So ‘can’ is a special verb. It doesn’t have an infinitive form. It doesn’t have an -ing form. And it doesn’t have a perfect form. They just don’t exist. When we want to use these forms, we use a different phrase – be able to. It means the same thing as can. So let’s look at these examples again.
‘Can’ and ‘be able to’ are both possible here and they mean the same thing. ‘Be able to’ is more formal and when we’re talking about knowing how to do something like this, we generally say ‘can’. But there are some situations where it’s not grammatically possible. Let’s look at some.

I can whistle.
I’d like to be able to whistle.

Notice Jay says ‘be able to’ here. He doesn’t say ‘can’ because we don’t use infinitive forms with can. Another example.

Mmm. I love being able to have three cups of coffee in the morning.
Yeah, we’ve been able to make six cups.

After ‘I love’ we need an -ing form. But can has no -ing form so we say ‘being able to’. And can has no perfect form either so we say ‘been able to’.
So when should you use ‘can’ and when should you use ‘be able to’? Well, normally you should use ‘can’. It’s what we generally say. But sometimes it’s not grammatically possible. When that happens, use ‘be able to’.
Now we had a question from a viewer. Bionexusgold said they always have a problem when they want to say ‘can’ for situations that happened in the past. Well yes, it’s tricky, Bionexus. We can’t say ‘canned’, but perhaps you can guess what we say now. We say ‘was able to’.

This mouse is a problem.
I’ve ordered you a new one from Amazon.
Oh, thank you. How much do I owe you?
Nothing. I was able to log in with your password.

So ‘was able to’ is like the past tense of ‘can’. When you want to use ‘can’ to talk about a past situation, use ‘was’ or ‘were able to’.

Were you able to fix it?
No sorry, I couldn’t.
Oh well. Thanks for trying.

Notice Jay’s answer here. Could is another modal verb that we use to talk about past ability. And the rules are a bit special. So we’re going to look at them in part two.
Come back next week and all will be explained. Bye for now.

Welcome back to part two of our video on ‘can’, ‘could’ and ‘be able to’. I’ll put a link to part one here in case you haven’t seen it.
Last week we looked at the modal verb, ‘can’. And this week we’re starting with another modal verb, ‘could’.
We’re going to look at how we use it to talk about past ability, and then we’ll look at how we use all these verbs to talk about the future.
We use ‘can’ to talk about abilities people have in the present. ‘Could’ is similar, but we use it to talk about past abilities.
For example, when I lived in Japan, I could speak some Japanese. It was a long time ago and I’ve forgotten it. I can’t speak Japanese now, but I could in the past.

When I was younger I could do a hundred push ups. Now I can only do ten.

This coffee machine can make six big cups. Our old machine could only make three.

‘Could’ is the past form of ‘can’ in these situations. But there’s a tricky thing about ‘could’. If we’re talking about general abilities in the past like these, we say ‘could’. But if we’re talking about a particular occasion, a one-off situation, we say ‘was able to’.

This mouse is a problem.
I’ve ordered you a new one from Amazon.
Oh, thank you. How much do I owe you?
Nothing. I was able to log in with your password.

Is it working now?
Yes, I was able to fix it.
Great.

Another thing we say here is ‘managed to’. It means the same as ‘was able to’.

Hey, I think I’ve managed to fix it.
Oh well done. He was able to fix it!

Because it’s a one-off situation, we don’t say ‘could’ here. For general abilities – could. For one-offs – was able to. But hang on, because negative sentences are different. In the negative, we can say ‘wasn’t able to’ or ‘couldn’t’.
I couldn’t fix it.
Wow, that’s weird. Let’s look at that again. To talk about a general ability or skill we had in the past, we say ‘could’.

When I was younger, I could do a hundred push ups.

But if it’s a one-off situation we say ‘was able to’.

Is it working now?
Yes, I was able to fix it.
Great.

Unless it’s a negative sentence. Then we say ‘wasn’t able to’ or ‘couldn’t’. So both are possible.

I couldn’t fix it.

Phew! OK, so that’s the past. Now what about the future? Let’s start with ‘can’. Is there a future form of can? Can you say ‘I will can’? No! If you want to say ‘will’, use ‘be able to’.

Any questions?
Yes doctor. Will I be able to play the piano after the operation?
Why, of course.
That’s great because I never could before.

So ‘will I can’, no. But ‘will I be able to’, yes! Easy huh? OK. Next question. Do we ever use ‘can’ to talk about the future? Well, yes. In fact we use it a lot when we’re making future arrangements.
So, how about Thursday?

I can meet you on Friday but not Thursday.
OK, let’s do it Friday.

So we’re using ‘can’ to say what’s possible in the future here. And we could also say ‘will be able to’. They mean the same thing. ‘Be able to’ is more formal and we normally say ‘can’.
OK, so that’s arrangements. Now what about skills and abilities? Well, that’s a little different. We use ‘can’ to talk about skills we have now, but not skills we will have in the future. So we say ‘can’ when we’re talking about a present skill. But when we’re talking about a skill or ability we don’t have yet, we use ‘be able to’, not ‘can’.

I can only do ten push ups now. But if I practice everyday, I’ll be able to do twenty.

So here’s a question. Could we say ‘can’ here instead of ‘be able to’? No, the thing is Jay doesn’t have this ability yet. We have to say ‘will be able to’.
OK, we’ve nearly finished. We just need to look at ‘could’. Do we use ‘could’ to talk about the future? Is that possible?

Yes, it is.
Oh. Are you going out?
Yes.
Well, take this umbrella. It could rain.
Thank you.

‘Could’ means the same as ‘may’ or ‘might’ here.
It may rain or it may not. It’s not certain.
We just use ‘could’ with this meaning, and not ‘can’. So we use ‘could’ to talk about a future possibility that’s not certain.

Oh Jay, you bought lottery tickets?
Yeah.
They’re a waste of money.
No they’re not. We could win ten million dollars.

If things are just a chance and not a certainty, we say ‘could’. And that’s why we often use ‘could’ to make suggestions.

I’m bored. I have nothing to do.
Well, you could tidy up the stock room.
Or I could work on my plans for world domination.
Well, there’s a thought.

When we make a suggestion like this, we don’t know if the other person will do it or not. And when we have ideas like this, they’re just ideas. Possibilities, but not certainties.
And that’s it! We’ve covered a lot of grammar with these verbs. They’re not verbs you can learn just like that. So when you have time, come back and watch the two parts of this video again. If you keep practising you’ll be able to use all these verbs correctly. So until next Friday, byeee!

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How to use the verb Grow and the phrasal verb Grow up

Do plants grow or grow up? And what about children? In this video you’re going to learn how we use these two verbs and fix some very common mistakes.

Grow has several different but similar meanings, so let’s start with some examples. What things grow?
Plants grow. They get bigger and taller. And animals grow, for example puppies. They grow a lot in the first six months. And children. They’re always growing.

Hey, you’ve grown since I last saw you.
You always say that Vicki.
It’s true.
Yeah.

So we were talking about height here – how tall he is.

Do you know how tall you are?
Well actually, I am almost five feet tall like an adult.

OK so that’s the first meaning of grow – get bigger and taller. So what else grows?
A queue or a line of people can grow. The population of a country of city can grow. Companies can grow. Their sales can grow, and perhaps their profits too.

Our profits have grown by 50% this year so we’re doing very well.

So in these examples, grow means increase in size and number.
OK, here’s another common meaning of grow. It can mean become.

I think it’s going to rain.
Really?
Yeah, the sky’s growing dark.
Oh yeah.

So here growing means ‘gradually beginning to do something’. We use ‘grow’ like this with adjectives, so we can grow bored, we can grow impatient, and we can grow excited. These are all things that happen over a period of time and growing means becoming.
Great. Now you know the main meanings of grow, so what about grow up. This is a phrasal verb and we use it to talk about human beings. When we develop from a child into an adult, we grow up.

I grew up in Brooklyn in New York, but now I live in Philadelphia.

So Jay is talking about the time in his life when he was becoming an adult here. Another example.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a pilot.
So you want to fly planes?
Yes.

‘When you grow up’ means, ‘when you become an adult’. Of course some people never really grow up.

Oh grow up Jay!

So here’s a phrase we use when we want someone to behave in a more mature and responsible way.
Now, if someone has grown from a child into an adult, we can say they’ve grown up. Parents might say they have grown-up children. ‘Grown-up’ is an adjective and we use it to describe fully developed and mature adults. And ‘grown-up’ can also be a noun. A grown-up is another way of saying adult. But it’s a childish way of speaking. It’s a word we use when we’re talking with children.

So I’m a grown-up.
Yeah. Karate.
Karate.
Yeah, right.

Grow is an irregular verb – grow, grew, grown. But there’s something else you should know.
Have a look at this example. Is grow a transitive or intransitive verb here? It’s intransitive which means there’s no object. The population doesn’t grow something. It just grows. And what about this example? Same thing. No object. OK, one more. Ah, this one’s different. There’s an object here. We’re growing something.

We’re growing lots of flowers on the deck this year. I’m growing geraniums in this pot and look at these little plants. I’ve grown them all from seed. They’re wild flowers.

So grow can be an intransitive or a transitive verb. It depends what we’re talking about, but with plants it can be either. We can say ‘We grow plants’ or ‘Plants grow’.
There are a few other things like this. Bacteria for example. Bacteria can grow or we can grow bacteria. And then there’s our hair and nails. We can say our hair grows and we can also say we’re growing our hair – allowing it to get longer. And finger nails. Our nails grow but we can also grow our nails. Another thing – beards.

I’m not going to shave today.
Really?
Yes, I’m thinking of growing a beard. What do you think?
I don’t think it’s a good idea. What do you think?

So growing a beard means allowing your beard to grow.
Now what about that other verb – grow up? Is it transitive or intransitive or both? Let’s see. Have a look at this example. What do you think? It’s intransitive here. There’s no object. Are you thinking, but what about Brooklyn, Vicki? Yeah, but notice that word ‘in’. There’s no direct object here. ‘Grow up’ is not followed directly by a noun. Another example. Transitive or intransitive? Intransitive again. ‘Grow up’ is always intransitive. We grow up, but we can’t grow up something. Remember that if you can because students often make mistakes with that. We grow up, but we can’t grow up something.
I have three questions for you. First one. Are these two sentences correct? The first one is correct but the second one is wrong. We only use ‘grow up’ to talk about children. It means develop into an adult and become mature. We could say this though, but here ‘up’ would go with the wall. It’s not the phrasal verb ‘grow up’.
OK, second question. Are these sentences correct? Yes, they’re both correct, but they mean different things. ‘The children grew’ means they got bigger and taller. ‘The children grew up’ means they became adults.
OK last one. What do you think? Are they correct? The first one is correct but the second one is wrong. When we’re talking about height we use grow. Grow up is about becoming more mature and we just grow up. We don’t grow up something.
Did you get them right? Well done! If you’ve enjoyed this video, please give it a thumbs up and share it with a friend. We have lots of other videos that can help you grow your English vocabulary. Happy studying and see you next week!

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Pay – learn how we use this verb with different prepositions

Pay! This English verb can be tricky because we use it with different prepositions. Learn the rules we follow and fix some common mistakes.


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How to use the verb pay in English video script

Yes?
I’d like to return this sweater.
Do you have the receipt?
No, I’m sorry. I lost it.
Did you pay by credit card?
No, I paid cash.
Then I’m sorry. I can’t help you.
But I just bought it this morning.

This lesson’s about the verb ‘pay’ and the prepositions that go with it. So pay attention! We’re going to fix a common mistake.

Twenty five dollars?
Ooooo pizza!
Yes, come and have some, Kathy.
Who bought it?
Well, I ordered it.
And I paid for it.
Thanks Jay.
I paid $25.
I ordered extra toppings.
You know, I paid the pizza guy last week too.
Do you want us to contribute?
Oh there’s no need. He’s already paid for it.

OK. So we can pay an amount, we can pay a person and we can just pay. But notice we pay for something that we buy. Remember that. Pay FOR something. So we pay someone an amount but we pay for something that we buy.

Do you want to split this?
No, no, I’ll pay for it.
Ah, thank you very much. It was a beautiful meal.

When we’re talking about a currency, we say pay in. So in dollars, in pesos, in rubles, in euros.

How much is that? 10 Euros.
Oh, can I pay in dollars?
Err no, we only accept Euros.
Oh, that’s OK.

And when we’re talking about a method of payment, we say by.

That’s ten euro’s please.
Oh, can I pay by credit card?
Err, no. I’m sorry.
Oh that’s OK. I can pay in cash.

So it’s by credit card, by cheque, by phone, by PayPal… But cash is a little different. You can say ‘by cash’ or ‘in cash’. And you can also skip the preposition and just say cash.

Did you pay by credit card?
No, I paid cash.
Then I’m sorry. I can’t help you.
But I just bought it this morning.

OK, I have a question for you. Imagine you’re in a pub and you’re offering to get some drinks. Would you say ‘I’ll pay for the drinks’
or ‘I’ll pay the drinks.’ Which one? It’s the first one. The second one is wrong. You can’t say that. You pay FOR something that you buy.
Great! So now you know the prepositions to use with pay! If you liked this video, share it with some friends and if you haven’t already, subscribe to our channel. See you next week!
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For and To. Learn how to use these English prepositions

The prepositions for and to can be confusing in English, especially if you speak a language like Spanish or Portuguese, where one preposition covers many of the uses of them both. Let us help! In this video we explain their key uses.

Hi! We’ve had a number requests for a lesson on these prepositions. They are tricky, especially for Spanish and Portuguese speakers. We can’t cover all the uses in this lesson. That would take too long. But we’re going to look at some important ones and fix some common mistakes. Are you ready?

Is that a present for someone?
No, I bought it for us.
What is it?
It’s a spiralizer.
A spiralizer?
Yes. It’s to cut up vegetables.
But I don’t like vegetables?
You’re going to love them. Let’s open it. Oh good. We’ve got some instructions. Let’s get it out. It’s a very useful kitchen gadget.
What’s this?
I think it’s a handle for turning the vegetables round. I don’t know what that is, but look, it has different blades.
Oh I see.
There are three blades here. What do you think that one’s for?
I don’t know but it looks…
It looks dangerous.
A little scary, yes.
What do you think that’s for?
I’ve no idea.
Well I think it’s to stick vegetables on.
Ah yes. We think we’ve figured it out. But before we start, this is for you.
What’s it for?
Put it on so as not to get your shirt dirty.
Hmmm.
It’s an apron.
So I’m going to cut the end of this zucchini.
Uhuh.
And now you can put it on there.
OK. I think you have to press hard to make it work. Erm. Shall we try?
Yes.
Is it working? Nothing’s happening.
You’re turning in the wrong direction. There we go.
Is it working?
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Really?
Yeah. It’s like spaghetti.
Oh Jay!
Big spirals.
This is the spirals. Look! So that blade is to make spirals. We’ve got one more blade to try.
All right. I think we need a different vegetable.
We could try a potato.
Let’s try a potato.
OK.
Watch out.
Wow! What’s that?
Well it’s going to turn into a kind of French Fries. What do they call these?
Oh yes. Curly fries.
Right. There you go.
Oh fantastic!

Did you understand everything? Let’s check some of the words you heard. I bought a kitchen gadget. A gadget is a small useful tool or device that has a clever design. This one is called a spiralizer because it cuts things into spirals. It has a handle and some blades. The blades are flat pieces of sharp metal for cutting the vegetables. Now, can you remember the vegetables we cut?
There was a zucchini and a potato. Zucchini is an American word. In British English we call it a courgette. And one more word. What’s this? It’s an apron. We wear aprons in the kitchen to keep our clothes clean. Great. Now let’s look at the prepositions we used. Let’s start with ‘for’.

Is that a present for someone?
No, I bought it for us.

We use ‘for’ to say who something is intended for. I’m not going to give the spiralizer to someone else. It’s for us.

Before we start, this is for you.

‘This is for you.’ You can say this when you give someone something, especially something that’s helpful. We often use ‘for’ when we’re helping.

Oh, it’s… it’s quite hard.
Well let me do that for you.
OK.
Well let me do that for you.
OK.

So here’s a useful expression for when you’re offering help. And you can use ‘for’ when you’re asking for help too.

OK. Could you cut some for me?
Yes. I’m going to cut the end of this zucchini.
Could you cut some for me?

I could just say ‘Could you cut some?’ but notice I added ‘for me’. We often add ‘for me’ to requests like this. Try it and your English will probably sound more natural. Now what about ‘to’. We can use ‘to’ when we’re giving things as well, but the meaning is a little different.

Give the instructions to me. I’ll explain them to you.
Give the instructions to me. I’ll explain them to you.

‘To’ means towards or in the direction of in these examples. So ‘for’ was more about helping but ‘to’ was about the direction something goes. OK, let’s look at another way we use ‘for’.

What’s this?
I think it’s a handle for turning the vegetables round.

We use ‘for’ to explain the purpose of something. The purpose of the handle is turning the vegetables. The blades are for cutting the vegetables. The apron is for keeping Jay’s shirt clean. And when you want to know the purpose of something, ask ‘What’s it for?

This is for you.
What’s it for?
Put it on So as not to get your shirt dirty. Hmmm.
What do you think that’s for? I’ve no idea!

You can ask about the reason for an action in the same way.

What did you buy that for? I don’t like vegetables.

‘What did you buy that for?’ means ‘Why did you buy it?’ Explain your reasons.

What did you buy that for? I don’t like vegetables.
But vegetables are good for you.

Now here’s a thing. ‘For’ isn’t the only preposition we use to talk about purposes and reasons like this. What’s the other one? Yeah, it’s ‘to’.
What is it?

It’s a spiralizer. I bought it for cutting up vegetables.
A spiralizer?
Yes, it’s to cut up vegetables.

These sentences mean the same thing but notice the construction is different. After ‘for’ we use a gerund, an ‘-ing’ form that’s a noun. And after ‘to’ we use the infinitive form of the verb.

Use this one to cut potatoes and this one to cut courgettes or zucchinis.

You could also say ‘in order to’ here. The meaning is the same but ‘in order to’ is more formal. Here’s another example.

I need the instructions to know what to do. I need the instructions in order to know what to do.

These sentences mean the same thing. If you want to be explicit or extra clear, say ‘in order to’. But generally in spoken English we just say ‘to’.
Now are you ready for one more? ‘So as to’. It means the same as ‘to’ and ‘in order to’. So this sentence is possible as well. But normally we use ‘so as to’ in the negative. We say ‘so as not to’.

This is for you.
What’s it for?
Put it on so as not to get your shirt dirty. Hmmm.
Put it on so as not to get your shirt dirty. Hmmm.

Great! Let’s have a quiz and check what you remember. I’m going to show you a sentence and you need to choose the right ending. Are you ready? Only one ending is correct – which one? It’s the last one.
The first one is wrong. We don’t use ‘for’ and ‘to’ together. This is a very common mistake so make sure you don’t say that. And the second one is wrong because after ‘for’, we use a gerund.
OK, let’s have another sentence. Only one ending is correct. Which one is it?
Did you say the first one? I hope so. It’s correct. The others are both wrong. But, you could also say in order to cut big spirals and that would be correct too – just rather formal.
And that’s it. Now you know some important ways we use ‘for’ and ‘to’ and you also know about our spiralizer. What did you think of it? Do you think it’s a useful gadget or not? And tell us, what’s your favourite gadget? Perhaps it’s a kitchen gadget or maybe it’s another kind of tool or device. What do you use it for? Let us know in the comments.

So what have you done here?
This is your first batch of spiralized vegetables. You’re going to love it. It’s curly fries.
Curly fries. Let’s see what it tastes like.
Hmm. They’re probably not good for us.
They look a little overdone, you know.
Well, you don’t have to have them if you don’t want them.
These are VERY good. Good job! You guys should have some of these. Mmm. Mmm.

Unfortunately we can’t share curly fries, but something we can share is our lessons. You’ll find more than a hundred different video lessons at our Simple English Videos website, and here on our YouTube channel, so make sure you subscribe, and if you found this lesson useful, please share it. Also sign up for our newsletter so we can tell you about our live classes. I’ll put details in the description below. So until next week, bye now.

Negative Questions – How to use them and answer them in English

Negative questions can be confusing in English. In this video lesson we demonstrate different ways native speakers use them and you’ll also learn the best ways to answer them.
Negative questions can be very confusing in English. In this lesson we’re going to look different ways we use them and you’ll also learn the best ways to answer them.
Let’s get very polite and start with the formal use. Imagine an important guest is visiting your office. You want to make a good impression and make them feel welcome.

Won’t you come in? Won’t you sit down? Won’t you have a drink?

So Jay invited his guest to do things with negative questions. Instead of saying ‘will’, he said ‘won’t’.

Hey, I’m a very polite guy.

Great – so that’s the first way we use negative questions. They’re very formal and extra polite questions – questions we might ask to make offers and invitations.

Good morning Mr Hale.
Good morning. I just dropped by to return your umbrella.
Oh thank you.
Won’t you come in?

Now imagine you want to come in. Should you answer the question yes or no? Generally we’d say ‘Yes’ for I will come in and ‘No’ for I won’t come in. But the question wasn’t ‘will you’. It was ‘won’t you’. So are these answers logical? Not really. It’s a bit confusing, isn’t it? Let’s listen to some answers.

Good morning Mr Hale.
Good morning. I just dropped by to return your umbrella.
Oh thank you. Won’t you come in?
Thank you.

Won’t you have something to drink
Oh thank you. I’d like that.

The best way to answer a negative question is to avoid saying just ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Say something else instead so you’re very clear.

Won’t you sit down?

If I say ‘no’, does it mean I won’t sit down or I will sit down? It probably means I won’t, but it’s not 100% clear. Sometimes answers to negative questions confuse English speakers. Here’s what you could say to be clear.

Won’t you sit down?
Oh, thank you. That’s very kind of you.

And if you want to refuse the offer…

Won’t you sit down?
Oh no thanks. I can only stay a minute.
Oh that’s too bad.

So add information when you’re answering a negative question. Be extra clear because a simple yes or no can be confusing. Great!
OK, now are you ready for part two? We’re going to look at another way we use negative questions and this use is much more common.

Vicki bought me a new tie and I love it. I’m going to wear it tonight. But first I have to cut the label off.
Are you ready?
Yes.
Oh. Aren’t you going to wear your new tie?
No, I don’t think so.
Don’t you like it?
I love it. But I had an accident.
Oh.

Notice I didn’t ask ‘Are you going to wear it?’ I was expecting Jay to wear the tie so I asked ‘Aren’t you going to wear it?’ When we’re surprised by something, we often ask a negative question. I thought Jay liked the tie so I was surprised. If we expect one thing and then something else happens, we ask a negative question. See how many you can spot in this conversation.

Oh, hi Kathy
Hi. Where’s the Boston report? I haven’t seen it yet.
Oh, weren’t you writing it Jay?
Err yes.
Good, then can I have it?
I’m afraid it’s not ready.
Haven’t you finished it?
No. I couldn’t find the figures I needed.
But Kathy gave you the figures, Jay.
Yes, didn’t I give you a thumb drive with all of the information?
Sorry. I lost it.
Oh Jay.
Erm. Was it this thumb drive?
Oh you found it!
Yes. It was on the floor in the break room.
Oh well done Vicki.
Thank you.
Good. Finish the report. I want it on my desk this afternoon.
Yes Kathy. I’ve been looking everywhere for this.
Yes, I found it a week ago.
Then why didn’t you give it to me?

How many did you spot? Let’s see.

Hi. Where’s the Boston report? I haven’t seen it yet.
Oh, weren’t you writing it Jay?

We were expecting Jay to write it, but he hadn’t, so I asked a negative question. And Kathy expected it to be finished.

Haven’t you finished it?
No. I couldn’t find the figures I needed.

She had given Jay a thumb drive with the figures he needed.

But Kathy gave you the figures, Jay.
Yes, didn’t I give you a thumb drive with all of the information?
Sorry. I lost it.
Oh Jay.

And there was one more.

I’ve been looking everywhere for this.
Yes, I found it a week ago.
Then why didn’t you give it to me?

So we often use negative questions when we think things aren’t quite right or as they should be. And this means that sometimes we use them when we’re nagging. What’s nagging? Let’s see.

Oh, your desk’s a mess. Aren’t you going to put that in the bin?
Oh yeah.
Why don’t you tidy these papers and wash those glasses up?
Oh stop nagging.

Nagging is complaining, often in an annoying way. So we might ask a negative question when we want to complain a little bit.

Aren’t you dressed yet?
Do I appear to be dressed?
Do dress, do hurry. It’s the most wonderful day.
Aren’t you dressed yet?
Do I appear to be dressed?
Do dress, do hurry. It’s the most wonderful day.

This car’s nearly out of gas. Don’t you ever fill it up?
I thought you could do it for me.
This car’s nearly out of gas. Don’t you ever fill it up?
I thought you could do it for me.

Can’t you go any faster?
I can but the horse can’t.
Can’t you go any faster?
I can but the horse can’t. Ha Ha ha

So let’s review. We use negative questions in two ways. Polite invitations and when we’re surprised. When you answer a negative question, add information to be extra clear. And also be careful when you ask negative questions because you might sound like you’re complaining. In a lot of Central European languages negative questions are extra polite, but they’re not always polite in English. You don’t want to sound like you’re nagging if you’re not.

Oh, your desk’s a mess. Aren’t you going to put that in the bin?
Oh yeah.
Why don’t you tidy these papers and wash those glasses up?
Oh stop nagging.
I’m not nagging. I just thought you’d want to clear up before Kathy comes.
Kathy’s coming here?
Yes, did I forget to tell you?
Good morning. Oh Jay, your desk’s a mess!
Sorry Kathy.

Can I tell them to hit the subscribe button now?
Yeah, go on.
Subscribe! Subscribe!

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Avoid and Prevent – avoid mistakes with these confusing words

The verbs avoid and prevent have similar meanings in English. They are both followed by a noun or gerund but the grammatical patterns they follow are rather different. Watch this video lesson to learn how to use them correctly and avoid mistakes.

Oh Jay! It’s like he’s avoiding me.

Today’s lesson is about two useful verbs with very similar meanings. In this video you’ll learn how they’re similar and how they’re different so you can use them correctly. Let’s start with ‘prevent’.

I always wear a helmet when I’m cycling. Helmets prevent head injuries. And I always use a security lock to prevent theft.

Injuries and thefts are bad. Prevent means stop something bad from happening.

I’ve got a joke.
What’s that?
How do you prevent a summer cold?
I don’t know. How do you prevent a summer cold?
Catch it in the winter.

Nobody wants a cold or other illnesses so we take action to prevent them.

Hi, I’m here at the gym today where there are lots of healthy people. Let’s find out what vitamins they take.
Excuse me. Can I ask a question?
Sure.
What vitamins do you take?
Well, I take vitamin C to prevent colds.
Uhhuh.
And vitamin E, that prevents heart attacks and strokes.
I see. Anything else? Yes, I take vitamin B for energy.
Uhuh. I think it’s working!

Prevent is followed by a noun here – the thing we prevent. And there’s another structure we often use with prevent.

We live on a very busy street in Philadelphia. There’s lots of traffic.
When we first moved here, the traffic prevented us from sleeping at night.
But we’re used to it now.

Preventing someone from doing something – it means stopping them from doing it. Let’s look at another example.

What are you wearing?
It’s none of your business.
Don’t tell me. It’s a helmet to prevent me from reading your mind.
How did you know?
I read your mind.

Prevent someone from doing something. Prevent someone from doing something. Don’t forget that! OK, now let’s look at ‘avoid’. Avoid can also mean to stop bad things from happening. Accidents for example. We need to keep our cars in good repair and we need drive carefully. These are things we can do to prevent and to avoid accidents. But if we see an accident up ahead we might swerve our car to avoid it, steer it in another direction, so we keep out of the way. Prevent is just about stopping something happening, but avoid can also mean keeping away from something.

Let’s go home.
But it’s only 4.30.
But if we leave now we’ll avoid rush hour.
Oh, good idea.

We want our journey to be fast so we’re trying to avoid heavy traffic. We can’t prevent the rush hour but we can try to stay away from it. So there’s a little difference in meaning here. When we avoid something, we try not to go near it. We might avoid people we don’t like – stay away from them. If we’re dieting we might avoid fatty or sugary foods. And when we’re having conversations, there might be topics we want to avoid.

So what did you think of my presentation?
Oh, I wonder if the coffee’s ready? Let’s get some?
No. I want to know what you thought of my presentation.
Maybe they’ll have doughnuts.
Stop avoiding the question. If you didn’t like it, tell me.
You pronounced the name of the product wrongly
Really?
Eight times. The customer complained.
Oh.
But never mind. What did you think of your presentation?
I wonder if the coffee’s ready. Let’s get some.

Do you remember the two structures we use with prevent? Here you are. Great. Notice prevent is always followed by a noun. And notice we use a gerund here. A gerund is a noun made from a verb by adding -ing. We can’t use infinitives after prevent so these structures are wrong. And it’s the same with ‘avoid’. It’s always followed by a noun or a gerund. You can’t use an infinitive so this sentences is wrong. Great. And that’s it. Now you know what these verbs mean and how to use them correctly.I hope this lesson has been fun, and I hope it will help you avoid making mistakes. Remember to subscribe to our channel for more lessons like this. Let’s finish with one more example.

Did you manage to get a new car, Jay?
Yes, it’s fantastic. It’s a Lamborghini
Really?
Yeah. It can go over 200 miles an hour.
I’m surprised. I thought Vicki wanted a small family car.
Yeah, but this car’s amazing. It’s a convertible.
How much did it cost?
Uh oh. Gotta go.
Hi Kathy
Hey Vicki
Was that Jay?
He said he had to go.
I’ve been trying to talk to him all morning. There’s this sports car parked in our drive way and I don’t know whose it is.
Ah…. I think he’s trying to avoid you.

Starting this autumn we’re going to run live classes on Youtube where we’ll be able to communicate with you in the chat. We’ll be broadcasting live from Philadelphia and other people will be joining us from around the world. Subscribe to our email list to get updates on live classes. I’ll put a link in the description below. Go on now. Go subscribe. You don’t wanna miss this.

Adverbs of Frequency – Learn How to Use them with Carter

Learn how to use English adverbs of frequency with our dog Carter. He’ll tell you about his exciting life as an international fashion model and demonstrate the key adverbs you need to know.

This lesson’s about adverbs of frequency, but really it’s about me, Carter. I’ll teach you how to look cool.
People often ask me about my life as a fashion model.
Well, I’m always busy. I generally have two or three photo shoots a day and I’m frequently on the cover of top magazines.
I have a lot of fans in social media – millions of followers. I post to Facebook once or twice a day and I tweet and snap chat. And I travel a lot. I was in Paris last week and London last month.
A fun fact – I know I look very fit but I don’t usually work out. I normally take a walk three times a day but that’s all.
How often do I go out to parties? Well every night, but I am rarely home later than 3 am. I hardly ever stay up till 4. I’ve got to look my best, you see.
Yes, it’s not easy being a star like me. It’s a dog’s life, but I never complain. It’s just the price I have to pay for being famous.
Hey! If you enjoyed this lesson or found it useful, subscribe to this YouTube channel. You never want to miss one of my videos.
And did you know there are more videos about me? Click the link here to see them. Go on! You’ll always regret it if you don’t.

We have lots of other videos on English grammar. Click here to see some.