hope vs wish

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.

likely probablity

Likely: An English Word You’re Likely to Need!

Learn how to to talk about probability in English with the word likely. It’s a word you’re likely to need!
In this video you’ll learn the common structures and collocations we use with likely and see how we use them in action. You’ll also learn an idiom where we always use it ironically.
And finally you’ll learn what happens to a marshmallow if you cook it in the microwave for 60 seconds. Mmmm. Irresistable!

Click here to learn how to talk about possibilities with if and in case.
Click here to learn some more ways we talk about the future.

An important word for talking about what’s probable

In today’s lesson we’re going to perform an experiment.
We’re going to cook this marshmallow in the microwave.
What do you think is likely to happen?
Yeah, what’s the likely outcome – the likely result?
Keep watching and you’ll find out.

Here’s a word you’re likely to need. What kind of word is it? An adjective? An adverb? It looks like an adverb, and it can be, but it can also be an adjective. Likely means probable or expected. So a likely outcome or result is one we think is probable.
We use likely is several different ways so let’s see some examples.

A giant storm has hit the north east of the US from Washington all the way up to Boston. Many school are closed, flights are canceled and wide-scale damage is more than likely. Let’s check in with our correspondent in Philadelphia, Vicki Hollett. Vicki, tell us all about this snow.
Hello Jay. As you can see we’re in the middle of a big storm here. They’re saying we’re very likely to get a foot of snow today with strong winds topping 60 miles per hour. It’s also likely there will be power outages.
The snow looks very pretty but the forecast is serious, right?
Yes. This snow isn’t light and fluffy. It’s wet, heavy snow. And that means when it accumulates on the branches, they’re likely to bend and break and that can bring down power lines creating more chaos.
So it’s unlikely that things will be back to normal any time soon. Is there any news on when the snow’s going to stop?
Yes. It’s not likely to stop until late tonight, with the winds getting worse. Oh my!
OK, thanks Vicki. Stay safe out there and keep warm. Vicki? Vicki?

We saw lots of examples there. Here’s the first pattern to note and it’s very common. We can use likely in front of verbs – notice the infinitive forms of verbs.

They’re saying we’re very likely to get a foot of snow today.
When it accumulates on the braches, they’re likely to bend and break.

So ‘to get’ – ‘to bend’, infinitive forms of verbs.
And notice that ‘very’. If we want to add emphasis, we use adverbs like very, highly, extremely, quite, and it makes the meaning stronger. These words all collocate with likely which means you’ll often see them together, and the phrases all mean we think something is very probable. Here’s a similar one.

Many schools are closed, flights are canceled and wide-scale damage is more than likely.

If something is ‘more than likely’ then it’s more probable than probable – it’s almost certain.
Now, here’s a question. What’s the opposite of likely? We can say NOT likely.

Yes. It’s not likely to stop until late tonight.

And we can also say unlikely.
So it’s unlikely that things will be back to normal any time soon.
Likely – unlikely – they’re opposites. Notice those sentences both started with it’s. It is. It’s is a sort of dummy subject here. And let’s look at the second one again. Sometimes likely is followed by a ‘that clause’ and ‘will’. So likely that, and ‘will’. Here’s another example.

It’s also likely that there will be power outages.

This isn’t the most common pattern. Likely and the infinitive verb is more common, but you’ll see both structures.
Great! So now you know the key patterns to use with likely. What do you think? Are you likely to use the word likely? Tell us something that’s likely to happen or likely not to happen in the comments.
And what about those marshmallows? Do you remember that experiment? Let’s find out what happens.

What’s going to happen if we cook this marshmallow in the microwave for sixty seconds?
I’ve no idea.
Well, let’s try.
OK.
Right, I’m going to put it on for sixty seconds. What do you think is likely to happen? Do you think it’s likely to melt and turn into liquid?
Maybe. Or is it likely to turn brown and burn?
Do you think it’s likely to explode like a bomb?
Oh my goodness. I hope not.
I’m just glad that the microwave hasn’t blown up. It still could. Ooo. It’s coming down.
One. Aha! It’s stopped.
OK, let’s open the door and see what it’s like. Oh wow! Well look at that. That is one big marshmallow! This was the size that it went in at. And this is the size now.
That’s huge.
I know. It’s amazing, isn’t it. I’m going to squish it. Oh Jay. You’re going to love this.
I love marshmallows.

OK, the last thing. Here’s one more expression with likely. What do you think it means?
If story is likely it should be probable and expected, so something that sounds true and you can believe it easily. But we always use this particular phrase ironically, so it means the opposite. Instead of a story you can believe, it means a story you can’t believe. Something that can’t be true. Let’s see it in action.

Jay, I don’t understand. There were lots of marshmallows in this bag. Where have they gone?
The dog ate them.
Really?
Yes. Carter ate them all.
A likely story.

What do you think? Should I believe Jay or not? And what will your friends think? Why not send them a link to this video so they can tell you and learn some English too. We’ll be back next Friday, so make sure you subscribe and click that notification bell so you don’t miss our future videos. Bye!
Click here to learn how to talk about possibilities with if and in case.
Click here to learn some more ways we talk about the future.

it's or it's - apostrophe

It’s or Its? When to use an apostrophe

We write it’s with an apostrophe when it’s a contraction of it is or it has. We don’t use an apostrophe when its is a possessive pronoun.
I think people muddle them up because they confuse possessive nouns with possessive pronouns. We explain the difference in this video and also show you how not to rob a bank.

Click here to see some grammar videos.
Click here to learn the meanings of some prefixes and suffixes.

It’s or Its? When to use an apostrophe

Can I help you?
I have a gun in my pocket and … Oh dear!

Today we’re looking at a mistake that lots of people make when they’re writing. We’re going to learn the difference between its and it’s.

I have a gun.
Yes, that bit’s all right. It’s this ‘its’ that’s a problem.
What?
It needs an apostrophe, see?
I didn’t come here for an English lesson.
The way to remember it is we use an apostrophe when it’s is a contraction of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’.
It is loaded. It’s loaded. Apostrophe.
Great! Is there anything else I can help you with?
Oh yeah.
Open the safe and put…. ah!
What’s wrong now?
Well, see if you can spot the problem. Is its a contraction there?
Put its contents – put it is – oh.
It’s not a contraction.
What is it then?
A possessive pronoun.
A what?
The safe’s contents. Its contents.
With no apostrophe. You know you’re a good teacher.
Thank you. I always wanted to be a teacher.

A lot of native speakers make mistakes with its.
When it’s is a contraction of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’, we write an apostrophe. But when it’s a possessive pronoun, there’s no apostrophe.
I think people get them muddled up because they confuse possessive nouns and possessive pronouns, and they’re different. So let’s look at that.
Here’s some money. If it belongs to Vicki, it’s Vicki’s money. If it belongs to Jay, it’s Jay’s money. And if it belongs to the bank, it’s the bank’s money. The apostrophe ‘s’ shows the money belongs to us. Now these words are possessive nouns, but what if we make them possessive pronouns? My money, his money, its money. Its is a possessive pronoun and there’s no apostrophe.

This is hard.
No, you can do this. There’s a simple way to remember it. Ask yourself: is it’s a contraction? If it is, use an apostrophe. If it isn’t, don’t.
Urgh.
I think you need a quiz.
You didn’t tell me there’d be a quiz.
Write this down. It’s important to get the punctuation right.

OK everyone. Let’s try this quiz. Here’s your first question. Apostrophe or not? Apostrophe. ‘It’s’ is a contraction for it is.
Next one. Is it a contraction? It is… It has… No – so no apostrophe.
OK. Next one. It is empty. That’s a contraction so we need an apostrophe.
Next. This is the contents of the safe – a possessive pronoun. No apostrophe.
Next one. It is? It has? Contractions don’t work. This is a possessive pronoun. No apostrophe.
Last one. What’s this quiz been like?
It has been easy – contraction.

Let me see how you’ve done.
They were hard questions.
But you’ve got them all right.
Well, I asked myself, ‘Is it a contraction or not?’
That was the right question to ask.
OK. thanks, I’m off.
Ooo wait! You’re forgetting something.
Oh yeah!
If you pass the quiz, you get a star.
Wow! Thank you very much. But what about my money and the safe?
Oh. Talk to that man over there.

We have a challenge for our viewers at the moment, for speaking English. If you’re interested, there are still a few days left, so get your camera out and get busy.
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English connectors & conjuctions

English Connectors & Conjunctions: And, Or, So, Because, Although and Though

And, or, so, because, although – these English connectors or conjunctions will help you signal how your thoughts are connected when you’re speaking. Watch a funny conversation and check you’re using them correctly in this video lesson.

Click here to see more grammar videos.
Hi everyone. Today we’re looking at some very common connectors that we use in spoken English. They’re words that will help you link your ideas and signal your thoughts when you’re speaking.
We’re going to look at these connectors and check some that my students sometimes muddle up.
The technical term for these words is conjunctions. Conjunctions signal how our ideas meet so other people will understand us better. So let’s jump straight in and see them in action.

Kathy said you’ve got my next assignment.
Ah yes.
What is it?
Decisions, decisions! I want you to write a report on the Boston project.
Uhuh.
I thought about asking Andrew to do this, or Jenny, or Sam, but then I thought, no. You’re the right person for this job. I think.
Well, it looks great.
Err. Here’s the report we did on the Chicago project.
Uhuh.
You can use the same format, but this time the structure needs to be completely different.
The same format but a different structure?
Yes, And your report needs to be longer – although it should be more concise, so keep it short.
So longer but shorter?
That’s right. Don’t get too detailed, but you need to go deeper than just the surface? And you can use pictures if you want. Well maybe not, because it needs to be serious… or funny. Funny’s good too.
This sounds hard.
Yes and Kathy wants you to get it right and do a good job, so take your time. But she needs it on her desk in half an hour, because we’re all waiting for it.
What?!
So anyway, I’m going to go get a cup of coffee… or maybe tea.

Jay was very indecisive there. If someone is decisive, they can make decisions quickly and with confidence. The opposite is indecisive.
And Jay used lots of connectors to link his ideas. Let’s start with an easy one: And. It’s really common and we use it to join words or phrases that are related.

Get it right and do a good job.

We use and to add information, and when we’re speaking, we use it to introduce new or extra ideas.

And Kathy wants you to do a good job. And your report needs to be longer. And you can use pictures if you want… or maybe not

You heard our next connector there: ‘or’. We use ‘or’ to introduce possibilities.

It needs to be serious… or funny. Funny’s good too.

Or signals an alternative – A different option.

I thought about asking Andrew to do this, or Jenny, or Sam, but then I thought, no. You’re the right person for this job.

And you heard another connector there: but. We use but to contrast ideas. It means – hey, here’s some different information.

You can use the same format, but this time the structure needs to be completely different.
The same format but a different structure?

The format of a document is its general design or plan. And its structure is how its parts are organized and arranged. So Jay was contradicting himself there. When he told me he wanted a different structure, it was a surprise. But signals surprising information – unexpected information.

Take your time. But she needs it on her desk in half an hour.
What?!

Now, there’s another connector that signals the unexpected: although. Did you spot it?

And your report needs to be longer, although it should be more concise, so keep it short.

Again Jay was contradicting himself. Concise means short and clear – giving only the information that’s necessary. So concise implies short
Now ,is there a difference between although and though? When they’re connectors, no. They mean the same thing.

Your report needs to be longer – though it should also be more concise, if that’s possible.

OK. Now we’re going to look at two connectors that my students sometimes confuse: because and so.
So has several different meanings in English. We’ll have to make another video about its other uses, but here we’ll look at how we use so as a connector – a conjunction. Let’s compare it with because.

Keep it short because it should be more concise.
It should be more concise so keep it short.

These sentences have the same meaning – but notice the different structures.
In the first one the instruction comes first and the reason comes second.
In the second one, the reason comes first and the instruction comes second
So what’s happening?
We’ll start with because. Because answers the question why.

Why should it be short?
Because it should be more concise.
Oh, OK.

It should be more concise is the reason here. After because we put a reason.
So is different. It comes in front of results, and it’s about something that follows logically.

We’ve got a problem with this report.
What’s that?
It’s not concise enough.
So it needs to be shorter?
Yes.

Needing to be shorter is the logical result. It’s a consequence of the problem.
Another example.

Don’t include pictures.
Why not?
Because it needs to be serious.
OK.

Because answers the question ‘why?’ The reason here is it needs to be serious.
Now compare that with this.
So tells us the result – the consequence. The report needs to be serious and as a result we can’t include pictures.
OK, now it’s your turn. I’ll show you some sentences and you pick the right word.
First one. Does ‘because’ or ‘so’ go here? Let’s see.

You need to get it right so take all the time you need.

Getting it right is important and consequently you should take your time. Now what about this one?

Take all the time you need because you need to get it right.

Because comes before a reason.
Next one? What’s missing? ‘So’ or ‘because’?

Don’t get too detailed because it needs to be short.

Why shouldn’t I get too detailed? The reason is it needs to be short. OK, one more. This is the last one. What do you think? ‘So’ or ‘because’?

We want everyone to read it so make sure it’s funny.

So it follows logically that it needs be funny.
Great. That’s it for this week. But speaking of funny, at Simple English Videos we like it when things are funny because we think learning should be fun. We also believe you can learn a lot faster if you see English in action, so we create conversations and stories to help you.
We publish videos every Friday, so if you’ve enjoyed this video, make sure you subscribe. Bye now!
Click here to see more grammar videos.

English food phrasal verbs

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 alike

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

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.
_____

be able to

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!

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.

grow

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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