like in English conversation

The word like in English conversation. It’s like 🤩

Do you think the word like is used too much by young people?
Learn some different ways we use the word like in English conversation and informal spoken English and see the word like in action in a conversation with Super Agent Awesome.
One use that’s common with young speakers is the quotative like. That’s when they use ‘like’ instead of says or thinks to report someone’s words or thoughts.
Some people complain that the word like is used too much by young people and it’s sloppy English. But it isn’t just youthful slang and there are useful functions that like performs.
We’ll show you how like can signal approximation or exaggeration, how we use like as a discourse marker and also how like can be combined with a dramatic face to describe someone’s feelings.


Click here to learn the difference between ‘Do you like…?’ and ‘What’s it like?’
Click here to learn how to use ‘be like’, ‘look like’ and ‘be alike’.

Like in English conversation

‘Like’. This is such a common word in English, but do you know how it’s used in colloquial English? And do you know what it means in teenage slang?

Today we’re very lucky to have some help. Super Agent Awesome is here.
Thank you Vicki.

I’m Jay and I’m American.
And I’m Vicki and I’m British.
The word ‘like’ has several meanings in English.
It can be a verb. For example, ‘I like you’.
I like you too!
And it can also be a preposition.
So we could say ‘What’s it like? or ‘It looks like …’
I’ll put a link here to other videos we’ve made about that.
But today we’re looking at some colloquial uses of ‘like’ – in other words how we use it when we’re speaking informally.
And in slang. It’s a word that young people use a lot.
Luckily we have Super Agent Awesome to help us.
Let’s see an example.

The quotative like

Is there anything you complain about doing?
I will be like Mom, ‘I want to play Fortnite again. Please, please, please!’
So you complain about not playing Fortnite.
Yeah, I feel like everyone should play Fortnite!

Did you catch it?
He said ‘I feel like everyone should play Fortnite.’
Well he loves that game, but he also said this.
So he used ‘like’ to report what he’ll say to his Mom.
This use of ‘like’ is particularly common with young people.
We call this the quotative ‘like’ because it’s about quoting what people say and also what they’re thinking. So it has a more general meaning than just ‘say’. It can mean ‘think’ too because you can use it to describe inner feelings and thoughts.
Notice we always use the verb ‘be’ here. You can change the tense, so you can use the future ‘I will be like …’ Or the past, ‘I was like …’ but we always use the verb ‘be’.
Is this use of like just an American thing?
No. Though they think it started in California in the 1980s. But it’s used by English speakers all over the world these days.

Do you think like is used too much?

Some people complain that young people use the word ‘like’ too much. They think it’s sloppy English.
Sloppy. Sloppy means without care or effort.
Do you think it’s sloppy and lazy?
No. I think it’s very interesting because languages change over time and if you look carefully, you find ‘like’ has new and useful functions in English. It can signal what we say and think and it can signal other things too.
Then let’s look at another example.

More functions that like performs

Do you ever complain about having to go to bed at a certain time?
Yeah. So one time, I was watching a movie, um, it was like Hotel Transylvania III. And then there was this really dramatic action scene, and like the villain is about to beat the hero, or the hero is about to beat the villain, but then Dad stopped me and I had to go to bed.
Uhuh.

Why did he say ‘like’ here?
Well he was remembering, but he wasn’t totally sure. Perhaps that was the movie, or perhaps it was a different one.
So ‘like’ signaled he wasn’t sure?
Yes and he said it again later.
Now the hero is the good guy and the villain is the bad guy.
And he couldn’t remember who was winning, so he signaled that by saying ‘like’
‘Like’ signaled he wasn’t sure.
Yes. This isn’t just a feature of young people’s speech. We use ‘like’ in the same way.
It signals uncertainty or that something is approximate.
For example, it’s like this big. And it could be this big or it could be this big.
‘Like’ signals an approximation.
It means what I’m saying might not be perfectly accurate. And it can also signal exaggeration. It’s like this big!
That sounds like a useful function!
And another way we use ‘like’ is as a discourse marker
What do you mean?
It’s a word we use to organize our speech. For example … Like … Well … So … We put like it at the start of a sentence when we’re thinking of what to say.
So it’s a filler. Like Errr … and Umm …..
Yes, it’s a word that fills a space and helps us speak more smoothly.
OK. Let’s hear another story.

Can you name something that you’ve had to apologize for doing?
Oh I know, I know, I know, I know. The time where I buried my Dad’s ring. I had to apologize for burying my Dad’s wedding ring.

Before we carry on, do you know the word ‘bury’.
It means to put something in the ground.
When people die we bury them. It’s a regular verb. Bury, buried, buried.
A dog could bury a bone in the ground.
We can bury treasure too.

I had to apologize for burying my Dad’s wedding ring. The reason why I did it was because I wanted to use the metal detector. Then I told my Dad and said ‘Dad, where’s the metal detector?’ Then my Dad was like your brother took it apart a couple of months ago, and then I’m like … Dad was like ‘Yo, what’s wrong?’ And then I was like Argh! I buried your wedding ring. And then my Dad was like … Oh! So that’s why you wanted to use the metal detector.

Did you understand everything?
He buried his Dad’s wedding ring in the yard.
Or in British English, the garden.
He buried it in the yard so he could try to find it with the metal detector.
But their metal detector was broken because his brother had taken it apart.
Did they ever find the ring?
No. I think it’s still lost. Let’s hear what his Dad said again.

And then my Dad was like … Oh! So that’s why you wanted to use the metal detector.

He’s lucky because his Dad is really nice.
He was very understanding.
OK, there was one more use of ‘like’ there that’s common and pretty funny.

Your brother took it apart a couple of months ago and then I’m like ….

So you can say ‘like’ and then make a funny face.
It’s very common.
And easy too. No words, just a dramatic face.
I want to say a big thank you to Super Agent Awesome for helping us make this video.
He was like … !
If you enjoyed this video, please give it a thumbs up and share it with your friends.
See you next week everyone. Bye.
Bye-bye.

Click here to learn the difference between ‘Do you like…?’ and ‘What’s it like?’
Click here to learn how to use ‘be like’, ‘look like’ and ‘be alike’.

actual

Actual and Current – learn how to use these false friends

The English words ‘actual’ and ‘actually’ are false friends in many languages, so English learners often think they mean one thing when in fact they mean another. Let us help you get them right. And learn how we use the word actually in spoken English. Watch this video.

Follow the links to see more videos on common false friends: sympathetic and nice, story and history, miss and lose, sensible and sensitive.
Click here to see more vocabulary videos.

Actual and Current Video Script

These are very useful words in English. Use them correctly and they’ll help you to sound more natural and polite. But be careful. If you use them wrongly and you could confuse everyone.
Lots of languages have words that look and sound like these words, but mean something different, They’re false friends. You think you know what they mean, but actually they mean something different so they cause misunderstandings. In English actual and actually mean real and really.

The tap in our bathroom stopped working.
So we bought a new one. It cost $100.
And then we had to pay for shipping, so the actual cost was higher.
Yes, we actually spent $120.

So we use actual and actually to say things are really true. They mean something like ‘in fact’. We don’t use them to say things are happening now or existing now. Some languages have similar words with that meaning, but in English they don’t mean currently or at present.

We currently have five sales offices in Asia and we don’t expect that to change. We have no present plans to expand.

So could you change these words and say actually and actual here? If you did, you would change the meaning. If you want to say something is happening at the current time, you need to use expressions like these.
So that’s very important. Actually means in fact or really, not currently. Another example.

Jay. What are our sales like?
Fantastic! We’re doing really well.
Can I see the actual figures?
Sure. I have them right here… Actually, they’re not as good as I thought.

So when I say ‘the actual figures’ do I mean the current figures, the up-to-date ones? No! I mean the real figures. I want to know the exact sales numbers. Now notice how Jay says actually here. He’s telling me he’s surprised by the figures.

It must be really cold outside.
Actually it’s quite warm.
Oh, I’m surprised.

If we think information is going to be a surprise, we often introduce it with actually.

It looks expensive, but actually it’s quite cheap.
Really? How much is it?
I think it’s about 50 bucks.
Really?

So you can use actually to contrast what’s really true with what someone thinks is true. Let’s look at another example and this time, try to work out why I say actually.

Would you like some more coffee?
Oh, actually I’m going to leave in a minute, so no thanks.
Oh, OK.

So why do I say actually here? It’s because I think Jay is expecting a different answer and my answer will be a surprise. Another example. What’s happening here?

Have you got time to talk?
Actually, I’m pretty busy at the moment.
OK. I’ll come back later.

So why does Jay say actually? Same reason as before. He thinks his answer will be a surprise. But something else is happening here too. Jay thinks I might not like his answer. When you’re saying no to a request or giving an answer the other person doesn’t want, you can say actually to soften it. It’s a polite way of giving unpleasant information.

Actually, I’m pretty busy at the moment.
OK. I’ll come back later.

Now there’s one other very common way we use this word. When we say something wrong and we want to correct ourselves, we can say actually.

Do you have some scissors I can borrow?
No, sorry.
OK.
Oh wait a minute. Actually I have one here.
Oh, thank you very much.
You’re very welcome.

So actually shows I’ve changed my mind. You can use it to take back what you said before.

And how long have you been doing karate?
For two and a… For two years.
Uhuh.
Actually one and a half.
Uhuh.

So we use actually to correct ourselves if we say something wrong, and it’s also useful for correcting other people.

We have new rules for cell phones in our office.
Yes, well actually we have one new rule. We have to turn them off in meetings.
Our boss goes crazy when they ring.
Well actually it is annoying for everyone.
Well, actually it rang eight times. I think she was very nice about it, considering.

So actually is a gentle way to correct someone. OK, are you ready for a quiz?
I’ve got three questions for you. First one. Have a look at this sentence. What the missing word here? Is it currently or actually? Let see.

May I speak to Kathy, please?
I’m afraid she’s currently assisting another customer. Can I help?
No, that’s all right. I’ll call back later.

The missing word is currently. When we’re talking about things that are happening now we say currently or at present. Next one. What’s the missing word here? Let’s see.

It was a thriller about love and revenge.
It was based an actual event where a wife killed her husband.
It was very scary.

So the answer is actual. It means the event happened in real life. OK, last question. What’s the missing word here? Well, it could be either, but the meanings would be different. If we’re talking about an up-to-date, present amount, it could be currently. But if we’re talking about a mistake and this is a correction, then the missing word is actually. Let’s see.

You’ve written thirteen dollars, but actually it’s thirty.
Oh, is it?
Actually, that’s my coffee. That’s yours.
Oh.

It was actually. We can use actually to correct what someone says in a gentle way when we want to be polite.
Great – so now you know what these words mean and how we use them in English. Are they false friends in your language? And do you have other false friends? Write and tell us in the comments. Hey, maybe we can make a video about them.
Please make sure you subscribe to this channel so you catch our future videos and see you next Friday! Bye now.

Follow the links to see more videos on common false friends: sympathetic and nice, story and history, miss and lose, sensible and sensitive.
Click here to see more vocabulary videos.
Click here to download Fix it – our free checklist that will help you avoid common mistakes.

negative questions

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!

Are you ready for some more grammar videos? Click here!