5 Things You Shouldn’t Say in English (if you want to be polite)

5 Things You Shouldn’t Say in English (if you want to be polite)

Translation is dangerous! Sometimes words and phrases that work in one culture are rude in English.
This video is about cultural differences and how to be polite in English. We look at 5 things you shouldn’t say in English unless you want to be rude or get a black eye.

  • Grandma and grandad/granddad
    Aunt and aunty
    How old are you?
    How much do you earn?
    You’re looking fat.

We talk about cultural differences that can cause problems if you translate and also the importance of giving people the benefit of the doubt if you want to be polite.

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Things you shouldn’t say in English

Are you saying things you shouldn’t in English? We need to talk.
Hi, I’m Vicki
And I’m Jay.
And this video’s about things you SHOULDN’T say in English.
So it’s about what NOT to say.
That’s right. There are some things that might work in one language and one culture, but when you translate them into English they become rude.
Give us an example.
Grandma.
Grandma?
Yeah, and Grandad. Like that comment we had on one of our YouTube videos.
Right. I know the one you mean. It was funny.
Yeah. Let me explain. We love getting comments on our videos. Usually people say really nice things and thank you all for that.
It’s very motivating for us. But we had a funny comment a while ago. Someone wrote and they said ‘I just love your video, Grandma.’
Technically speaking they were correct. I am a grandma. And I love being a grandma. But grandma also has another meaning in English. We use it informally as an insult to talk about people we don’t know.
So it’s a rude thing to say.
Exactly. An insult is when you say something that’s rude in order to offend someone or to upset them.
Grandma can imply that someone is very old and feeble
Feeble means weak and ineffective. We might call someone grandma when we think they’re mentally or physically slow.
Grandad or grandpa is similar. It’s also used as an insult.
So if an old person is taking too long to do something we might say ‘Oh hurry up grandma.’ Or ‘Get out the way Grandma.’
So what did you think when you read that comment?
I wasn’t sure what to think. Obviously we are a little old for YouTubers, but still… Then I thought maybe it’s just an English mistake.
So not an insult?
Yeah.
So what did you say to them?
I just wrote ‘thank you’.
You didn’t ask them what they meant?
No. Perhaps I should have asked. I wanted to know what they meant, but then I thought, don’t feed the trolls.
‘Don’t feed the trolls’. This is a useful expression. There are trolls on the internet.
Trolls are people who make rude or nasty comments because they want to get an emotional reaction.
Don’t feed the trolls means don’t respond to them.
Yes. But in this case I didn’t know if the comment came from an internet troll or not. I probably should have asked.
But then another viewer did ask.
Yes, they came to my defence. That was nice. They said, hey, why are you calling her grandma? Be more polite. And then first viewer wrote back and explained. In their culture, for them, Grandma was a term of respect and admiration.
So they were trying to be respectful?
Yes, maybe grandma means experienced and wise. But in some cultures you can use grandma and grandpa to show respect to people you don’t know.
So there was a happy ending to this story.
A very happy ending. It’s good to give people the benefit of the doubt.
That’s another useful phrase – the benefit of the doubt.
Yeah. If you think someone might be doing something bad, but you’re not sure, you can decide, hey, I don’t know so I am going to presume you’re not being bad and you’re being nice.
You give them the benefit of the doubt.
Yes, and if you want to be safe, don’t call people grandad or grandma in English.
Unless they’re YOUR grandma or grandpa. Then it’s OK.
Yes, or unless you want a black eye.

Get out of the way, grandma.

A black eye is a dark area of skin around your eye that you get if someone hits you.
Now there’s another term like grandma, that’s dangerous in English.
What’s that?
Aunt or Aunty. Be careful how you use these words.
I pronounce them Aunt or Aunty. In English an aunt is a family member – it’s the sister of your mother or father.
Yes, but there are cultures where it has another use and people call lots of older women aunt. It’s a term of respect again and also affection.
Usually we only call blood relatives aunt in English.
Yes, there might be a very close family friend that children call aunty, though it’s not usual in British English.
It’s unusual in American English too.
But here’s the thing. Sometimes people I hardly know contact me on the internet and they write Dear Aunt or Dear aunty.
That sounds very weird in English. Why do they do that?
I think they’re translating and trying to signal affection, but it doesn’t work
It sounds too familiar.
Yeah. It suggests we have a personal connection that we don’t have so it’s uncomfortable.
OK, so aunty is another thing you shouldn’t say in English.
Yes. Don’t use it. And I have some more.
Oh tell us.
Well, sometimes people ask us questions that don’t work in English because they’re too intrusive and too direct.
Can you give us some examples.
OK. ‘How old are you?’ is one, and another one is ‘How much do you earn?’
Wow, they’re very intrusive questions….. much too direct. People really ask these questions?
Yes. In some cultures you might ask them to get to know someone, so they’re more friendly then because they show you’re interested in them.
And they’re not rude?
Well no because you expect vague answers. Vague means not clear, not detailed.
But they just don’t work in English. They’re really rude.
Yes, they’re way too personal. Don’t ask them. Don’t go there.
‘Don’t go there’ means don’t bring up that subject of conversation. You’ll get a very bad reaction if you do.
Or a black eye!
Any more questions?
No, but I’ve got one more thing you shouldn’t say in English.
What’s that?
This happened to a friend of mine. He was travelling in China and he met someone he hadn’t seen for a while and they greeted him with ‘You’re looking fat’.
What?!
He was horrified, really shocked.
Well of course. We all want to look slim, like me. Why did they say that?
It was a direct translation that didn’t work. I think they meant to say you’re looking healthy and prosperous.
So they meant to say ‘You look well’ or ‘You look healthy’.
Exactly. We’d say something like ‘You look great. Jay, you’re looking good.
Thanks, of course I do. So the important lesson here is to be careful how you translate.
Yes. And also remember that when we’re communicating with people from other cultures, these translation mistakes happen so we have to give people the benefit of the doubt.
That sounds like great advice. What do you think?
Perhaps you know more things that don’t translate well into English from your language. Write and tell us in the comments if you do.
And if you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and see you next week everyone. Bye.
Bye-bye.

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How to agree in English – 12 different ways

How to agree in English – 12 different ways

In this lesson we look at how to agree in English and we’ll spice up your vocabulary with 12 different words and phrases. We’ll show you common words and phrases in action and explain what they mean.

If someone gives an opinion or makes a suggestion that we like, we can say ‘I agree with you’. This phrase is clear, but be careful. If you use it too often, you might sound a little formal and unnatural. In everyday conversation, we signal agreement in lots of other ways that are easy to learn.

We’ll also look at some very common mistakes like ‘I am agree’ so you know what NOT to say as well. So start watching now to to learn how to agree in English.

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How to agree in English

How many ways can you think of to say ‘I agree’? In this lesson we’re going to spice up your English with different phrases and we’ll fix some common mistakes.
If someone gives an opinion or makes a suggestion that we like, we can say ‘I agree’. Let’s see the phrase in action.

You know, I think we should buy a big new camera.
Oh what a good idea!
We want one with high resolution.
I agree.
Very high resolution.
Yes, you’re right.
And we want one that films in slow motion.
Oh yes, I agree with you. You always have such wonderful ideas. Wake up. Wake up. Did you fall asleep again, Jay?
Err no, no.
Because we need to talk about the equipment.
Oh right. I think we should buy a big new camera.
What? That’s a terrible idea.

So in Jay’s dream, you heard me agreeing several times. Now, I have a question. Is this phrase correct too? NO!!! And what about this one? NO!!! Agree is a verb in English, not an adjective. To make questions and negatives use ‘do’. So ‘Do you agree?’ or ‘I don’t agree.’
In many languages the word for ‘agree’ can be a verb AND an adjective. Think about it. If you translate, can you say ‘I am agree’ in your language? In English you can’t because agree is always a verb, so we don’t use it with the verb ‘be’.
However, the word agree does have an adjective form in English. See if you can spot it.

So are we all agreed?
Uhuh.

Did you catch it?

So are we all agreed?
Uhuh.

So in this question agreed, with a d, is an adjective and we use the verb ‘be’. But this is an unusual thing to say. You’ll only hear it in very formal situations, maybe a business meeting but only if it’s very formal. I don’t think you need it, so let’s forget it.
Just remember, ‘agree’ is a verb. Make questions and negatives with do.
Now, while we’re talking about mistakes, there are some other things I’ve heard students say that don’t work in English.
They’re all translations from other languages. Don’t say them because they’re all wrong in English! Let’s throw them out too and talk about things you CAN say. ‘I agree’. This phrase is very clear, but be careful not to use it too much. Students often overuse it so they sound a little formal and unnatural. In normal conversation, English speakers will signal agreement in lots of other ways, often more informal ways, so let’s look at some in a conversation. While you watch, see how many agreement phrases you can spot.

OK. The 10 best old movies. Let’s write a list.
Yes.
Yeah!
How about ‘The Godfather’?
Definitely. It’s the best.
Absolutely. Write it down. And ‘Star Wars’.
Oh totally!
You bet.
May the force be with you.
Hey, ‘ET’. That was a fantastic movie.
You’re right.
You can say that again. Now what about an Alfred Hitchcock movie?
He made such scary movies.
Exactly!
You’re dead right there. Write down ‘Psycho’.
Uhuh.
And ‘The Terminator’.
‘The Terminator’?
Arnold Schwartznigger. I’ll be back…

In that conversation we signaled agreement in eleven different ways. Yes, eleven! How many did you spot?
Let’s go through them. The most common way to show you agree in English is to say yes, or something like it.

Yes.
Yeah.
Uhuh.

So that’s easy. And of course you can say people are correct or right.

You’re right.
You’re dead right there.

Notice the word dead here. In many situations dead means ‘not alive’. For example, a dead flower. But in other situations dead can mean completely or exactly. So dead silence, is complete silence. If something is dead centre it means it’s exactly in the middle. And if you say ‘you’re dead right’ it means you’re exactly or completely right.
There are other ways to say this:

Exactly!
Definitely!
Totally!
Absolutely!

You can use all these words to add emphasis and indicate you think statements are completely correct and accurate.
Now, what about this idiom?

You can say that again.

It means you’re so completely right, you can repeat it. I don’t know why repeating it helps, but it’s just something we say. And just one more expression.

You bet.

‘Bet’ is an interesting word. It can mean to gamble, so to risk money on a race or something. We might bet money on a horse we think is going to win, or bet money at a casino. But in this expression it just means ‘You’re right’. It’s informal and we say it when we want to emphasize that someone has made a good suggestion.
So these expressions are all very positive ways to signal we agree. They short and easy to learn and they’re going to make your English more natural and colloquial.
Now what about if we don’t agree? Well, that’s more complicated because people don’t like to disagree in English, or in any language. Disagreements can damage relationships, so we have to overcome that problem. We’re working on another video about that so make sure you subscribe to this channel so you don’t miss it.
If you’ve enjoyed this video please share it with a friend and why not write and tell us what your favourite old movie is.
It’s the terminator, right?
Goodbye everyone.
We’ll be back, next week.
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How to wish someone something nice in English – wish or hope?

How to wish someone something nice in English – wish or hope?

Learn how to use the verbs wish and hope to give good wishes and say nice things to someone in English.
We use the verbs wish and hope differently. Wish is more formal so when someone is wishing someone something it’s more likely to be written English. When we’re talking about future possibilities we generally use ‘hope’. It’s the verb we commonly use to give good wishes.
In this video you’ll see lots of examples and learn some other common ways to wish people nice things, like ‘Have a nice day‘ and ‘Have a great weekend‘.


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How to give good wishes: wish or hope?

There’s a mistake English students often make when they want to give good wishes to someone. They muddle up wish and hope. Today we’re going to fix that and we’ll also show you some other ways to say nice things to people in English.

I’m off
Oh, where are you going?
To the dentist’s. Wish me luck.

‘Wish me luck’. Notice that structure. To wish somebody something.
We might write this message for a bride and groom when they get married. Or maybe a colleague is retiring from work. We might write this in their card. They’re nice things to write.
But they’re for written English and they’re quite formal. Someone might say them in an official speech at an important occasion. But if we want to wish someone something, we usually say ‘hope’ instead. So, ‘We hope you have a great life and lots of fun together’, or ‘I hope you have a wonderful retirement’.

I’m off
Oh, where are you going?
To the dentist’s. Wish me luck.
Have you got a problem then?
Yes, I’ve got a toothache.
I hope it’s nothing serious.
Thanks.

Jay said ‘Wish me luck’ and I said ‘I hope it’s nothing serious.’ I didn’t say ‘wish’. That would sound funny.
So if we’re making a wish, we don’t say wish. We say hope. Wow, sometimes English is weird. What’s going on?
Wishes are magical things. The idea is that if we think of or imagine something enough, it will come true. But we all know magic isn’t real. When we want to talk about things that are real possibilities, we use hope instead of wish.
This means that we say wish when we’re talking about the action of wishing. But if we’re actually doing the action and giving good wishes to someone, it’s different. We don’t normally say wish when we’re talking about real possibilities.
It’s tricky so let’s look at some more situations. Imagine you’re saying goodbye to someone at an airport. What will you say to them?
These sentences are both grammatically correct, but I wish you a nice flight is very formal. We don’t normally say it. We say ‘I hope you have a nice flight’, or just ‘Have a nice flight.’ We often use the verb ‘have’ when we’re wishing people things.

  • Have a nice day.
    Have a great vacation.
    Have a nice trip.
    Have a great weekend.

OK, another situation. Your friend is sick. You call them and what do you say?
You say ‘I hope’, of course. When we’re doing the action of wishing we use hope not wish. And often we just say ‘Get well soon.’
OK. Another situation. Someone calls to wish your friend a happy birthday. But your friend is out so you take a message. What do you say to your friend when they return?
Which one? Let’s see it in action.

Thanks for calling. Yeah, I’ll tell him. OK. Bye now. Oh.
Who was that?
Kathy.
Uh oh. What did she want this time?
She called to wish you a happy birthday.
Oh that was nice of her.
And she wants you to work late tonight.
Oh.

So which sentence did I say? I said wish. I was talking about a wish, not doing the action and making the wish.
If I wanted to make the wish, I’d do it like this.

Hey Jay, happy birthday.
Oh thank you.
I hope you like them.
Oh I’m sure I will. It’s hair curlers?
Yes. Can I borrow them some time?
Errr. Sure.
Thank you!

So to make the wish, I just said ‘happy birthday.’ And did you notice what I said about the hair curlers?
We can say ‘I hope you like them’ or ‘I hope that you like them’. Both are correct. We often we skip ‘that’ when we’re speaking.
Great. So now you know how we use ‘hope’ to give good wishes, and you also know about this structure and when to use it.
But this structure is just the start. There are other structures we use with ‘hope’ and ‘wish’ so we’re making more videos about them.
Make sure you’ve subscribed to our channel and click the notification bell so you don’t miss them. And maybe your friends would like to learn about hope and wish too. Why not share this video with them? See you next Friday.
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Thank God or Thanks God?

Thank God or Thanks God?

Do we say Thank God or Thanks God? In this short video we show you how we use these phrases and fix a common (and funny) English mistake.
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Thank God or Thanks God?

We’re going to fix a very common and funny mistake today and it won’t take long. Do we say ‘Thank God’ or ‘Thanks God’?
Let’s jump straight in and see these phrases in action.

God, I’m late and I can’t find my cell phone! Oh God!
Did you call me?
Who are you?
I’m God.
Really? But I thought God was, you know, a guy.
No, I’m definitely female. What did you want?
I’ve lost my cell phone.
Well, when did you last have it?
I can’t remember.
Hmmm. I’ll call it
Ha! Thanks God.
You’re welcome. Bye.
Thank God she could help.

If we’re thanking people directly, so talking to them in person, we say ‘Thanks’ or ‘Thank you’.

Here’s your coffee.
Oh thanks, Jay.

But if we want to say we’re pleased about something we say ‘Thank God’, with no s on thank. If you say ‘Thanks God’, it sounds funny because it sounds like you’re talking to God directly.

Thanks God!
You’re welcome.

So if you’re very pleased about something, make sure you say thank without the s.

Thank God I’ve found my phone.

And that’s it. Make sure you subscribe and see you next Friday everyone. Bye.

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Conversation and slang with Philadelphia Eagles fans

Conversation and slang with Philadelphia Eagles fans

Come join the Eagles fans on the streets of Philadelphia as they celebrate a Super Bowl win. You’ll get listening practice with natural spoken English and learn some informal colloquial expressions and slang. Go Birds!

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Philadelphia Eagles fans having a blast

Today you’re going to meet lots of very happy people, and get some great listening practice with natural spoken English. You’re going to learn some colloquial expressions and slang. So come with me and let’s hit the streets of Philadelphia.

You’re here today celebrating at the parade. Have you been to the parade?
Yes we did. It was lit.
Last Sunday the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, and today milions of people have come to the city to celebrate at the parade.
Where have you come from?
Err, South Philly.
OK. Wow, the celebrations must have been big there.
It is. We followed the whole parade all the way up.
Where have you come from today?
I came from Delaware County.
Delaware County. So quite a journey. Was it difficult getting in?
It wasn’t too bad. We took the train. It took about an hour and then we had to take a subway ride.
Was it worth it?
Absolutely! This was worth it ten times over. It’s the best day of my life. I’m getting married next year. That’ll be the best day, but right now, this is the best day of my life. Great day, great day, great day. Go Birds!
Are you an Eagles fan?
Oh yeah!
What did you think of the game on Sunday?
Well I was actually there. My Dad took me.
Yeah.
And well, I was like frozen for like an hour when I found out that the Eagles won. So like, I… I was speechless.
Oh, it was phenomenal. It was a great game. I mean Philly did amazing. But I mean in general both teams played wonderfully, but obviously Philly came out.
It was a wish come true for every Eagles fan.
What do you think of the celebrations today?
Oh it was wild. It was really cold out here, but you know what, being around all of the other Eagles fans made it good. It was a blast. We had an absolute blast today.
It’s been great. Nothing really bad happening. Everyone’s loving it. People are.. I mean people are drinking, but people are having a good time. It’s like everyone’s supporting people. High fiving everyone. It’s really a good time.
It is, isn’t it? It’s a very happy crowd.
Great celebrations, yeah. I mean… There’s no one better in the entire nation than Philly fans. Philly fans are so dedicated but everyone’s being safe so it’s a good day today.

We heard lots slang and informal expressions there, so let’s take a look at some. Did you know this phrase?

Have you been to the parade?
Yes we did. It was lit.

This is a slang expression and ‘lit’ means exciting. So if a party is lit, it’s exciting. Next one.

Where have you come from?
Err, South Philly.

Philly – this is what the locals call Philadelphia. It’s an abbreviation. So South Philly is the south part of Philadelphia. Easy huh? Next one.

This is the best day of my life. Great day, great day, great day. Go Birds!

The name of the Philadelphia football team is the Eagles, and an eagle is a bird. So another word people use for the team is the birds. But notice the word ‘go’ here. This is like an instruction, telling the birds to advance and attack. In informal spoken English, people say ‘go’ to encourage one another – especially in American English. Great. Next one? This guy was interesting.

And well, I was like frozen for like an hour when I found out that the Eagles won. So like, I… I was speechless.

Speechless means not able to speak, and in this case it was because he was so happy and surprised. But notice how he uses the word ‘like’ here.
Like has lots of meanings in English and in colloquial English, you’ll hear it used as a filler word, especially among young people. We all use noises like err and um when we need to think. They fill gaps and spaces and make our speech flow more smoothly. ‘Like’ is another one and with young people it can sometimes signal an exaggeration. OK. Next one. Is this phrase grammatical?

Oh it was phenomenal. It was a great game. I mean Philly did amazing.

It’s NOT grammatical. You’d have to say Philly did amazingly to make it correct. BUT if you listen to the next bit, you can see this guy knows how to use adverbs correctly.

But I mean in general both teams played wonderfully but obviously Philly came out.

He used the adverb there. So what’s happening here? Well, ‘They did amazing’ is just a phrase we say in informal spoken English. Sports commentators say things like ‘He kicked the ball in magic’ instead of ‘He kicked it in magically’. Using an adjective instead of an adverb is common in some spoken English expressions and I think they’re examples of how the language is changing. OK, last one.

It was really cold out here. But you know what, being around all the other Eagles fans made it good. It was a blast. We had an absolute blast today.

A blast can mean a sudden gust of wind, or a sudden loud noise, but here it means something different. Again it’s an informal expression and it means an enjoyable and exciting experience. Like, everyone had a blast at the parade today and we had a blast making today’s video. We hope you enjoyed it too. If you did, please make sure you subscribe to our channel and see you next Friday.

Fly Eagles, fly!
On the road to victory.
Fight Eagles, fight.
Score a touch down 1,2,3.
Hit ’em low. Hit ’em high.
And watch our Eagles fly.
Fly Eagles, fly.
On the road to victory.
E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!

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How to use Can, Could and May to ask for permission

How to use Can, Could and May to ask for permission

Can, could and may are all modal verbs and we use them all to ask if it’s OK to do something. So how are they different and how do we respond when we want to agree to a permission request, and also to refuse? In this video you’ll find out.

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Can Could May Permission Video

How are these questions different? And how do we answer them? In this lesson we’ll find out.
We use all these phrases to ask if it’s OK to do something. Let’s look at three examples.

Can I park here, officer?
No, it’s not allowed.

Could I borrow your toothbrush?
What’s wrong with yours?
I lost it.

Oh, Vicki. I’ve got a yoga class this evening and I don’t want to be late. May I leave work early?
Yeah, OK. Maybe I’ll come with you.
That would be great.

‘Can I…’, ‘Could I…’ and ‘May I…’ They all mean the same thing here. Look, we can change them round and the meanings stay the same.
We use all these phrases to ask for permission to do something.

You can’t park here. You don’t have permission.

So is there a difference? Well yes, it’s about the situation we’re in and how careful we want to be about being correct and polite.
‘May’ is the most formal. ‘Can’ is the most informal. And ‘could’ is a little more formal than ‘can’.
When I was a child, my mum told me I should use ‘May I’ to ask for permission. It was a common rule back then and the old grammar books said ‘May I’ was more polite.
But the way we speak has changed over time and these days ‘Can I’ is much more frequent. In fact English speakers are now ten times more likely to say ‘Can I’ than ‘May I’. Yeah, ten times!
So do you need to learn ‘May I’ or can you forget it? You ned it because there are particular situations where we still use it. Maybe if someone’s giving a talk or speech to a group of people.

May I begin by thanking you all for being with us today?

Or perhaps they’re providing a service to a customer.

This is Rachel speaking. Sorry to keep you waiting. How may I help you?

Or perhaps they’re in a business meeting, and they want to make a suggestion.

I don’t think so.
Why not?
It’s not a good idea.
Yes it is.
May I suggest we come back to this later if we have time?

So ‘may I’, ‘could I’, ‘can I’ – they’re all useful when you need to ask for permission. But most of the time you’re going to say ‘Can I’ or ‘Could I’.
Now next thing. How should you respond if someone asks these questions?
Let’s look at some more examples, but this time pay attention to the answers. You’re going to hear six different replies. Are you ready?

Vicki, can I have a word?
Sure.

May I come in?
Mr Hale! Why, certainly.
Congratulations.
Thank you very much.

My battery’s flat. Can I use your phone?
Yes, of course.
Thank you.
You’re welcome.

Could I borrow these?
Yeah, OK.
May I serve tea now Miss Angorda?
Yes, please do, Warner.

Oh pizza. Can I have some?
Sure.
May I have some too?
Yes, help yourself.

Here are the replies you heard. They all mean ‘yes’ and they’re all polite. But which two are most formal? What do you think?
It’s these two: ‘Why certainly’ and ‘Please do’ are a little more formal. Also, notice ’Help yourself’. It’s a little different. We say this when we want someone to serve themselves or to take something.

Oh pizza. Can I have some?
Sure.
May I have some too?
Yes, help yourself.

OK, now that’s how we say yes, but what if we want to say no? Well, sometimes we apologise.

Can I borrow these?
Oh no. I’m afraid I need them.
That’s OK.

I’m afraid. It means ‘I’m sorry’ here so it’s a gentle, polite no. Of course we can also give a firm or definite no.

Oh Kathy!
How are you?
Fine.
Do you have a moment?
Can we speak with you about the Boston project?
What about it?
It’s the deadline. We’re a little behind.
Could we have another week?
No way. You need to finish by Friday?
Well, then can we hire an assistant?
Not on your life.
You don’t like the idea then?
In a word, no.

These phrases are all definite no’s and the last one means you won’t even discuss it.
Great! So that’s it. Now you know how we use ‘can’, ‘could’ and ‘may’ to ask for permission in English. And you also know some different ways to reply.
If you enjoyed this video, can I make a suggestion? Why not subscribe to our channel? And could I suggest you share this video with a friend? Perhaps they’ll enjoy it too. See you all next week! Bye now!
Click here to see more everyday English conversation videos.
Click here to learn how we pronounce can’t differently in British and American English.
Click here to learn about the modal verbs can and could and the verb be able to.

How to use the phrase ‘of course’ – it’s not always polite

How to use the phrase ‘of course’ – it’s not always polite

There’s a curious thing about the phrase of course. Use it correctly and it’s polite. But use it wrongly and it causes problems. Learn how to use it correctly in this video.

Click here to learn how to use can, could and may to ask for permission
Click here to learn how to use the verb mind in polite requests
Click here to learn more polite phrases for everyday English conversation

Of Course Video Script

‘Of course.’ This is such a useful English phrase, but be careful. If you use it wrongly people might think you’re angry or when you’re not, or they might think that you think they’re stupid. That’s no good! You don’t want to get it wrong, but don’t worry. In this video you’ll learn how to use it correctly.
‘Of course’ is a dangerous phrase because it can be polite or it can be rude. Let’s start by looking at some polite ways to use it.

Are you coming to my party on Saturday?
Yes, of course! I’m looking forward to it. Erm… I was wondering. Can I bring a friend?
Yes, of course. Please do.
Thank you.

‘Of course’ is polite and friendly here. It’s like definitely, certainly. It emphasizes that what we’re saying is true or correct. Of course I’m going to Geri’s party because I REALLY want to go. And Geri will be VERY happy if I bring a friend. When we’re saying yes, ‘of course’ can add emphasis.
The most common way we use ‘of course’ is to reply to requests.

I’m going to lunch.
Oh, can I come too?
Yes, of course.

‘Of course’ means ‘please do – you’re very welcome. OK, here’s another way to use ‘of course’ politely.

Oh. I’m sorry to hear that. OK. Good-bye. We’ve lost a customer.
Oh.
I tried my best.
Of course you did.
I did everything I could.
Of course, I know you did. Don’t worry about it.

I’m agreeing with Jay here. I’m sympathetic and ‘of course’ is a polite way to agree with what he said.
Now is ‘of course’ always polite? No. So what’s an impolite way to use ‘of course’? Let’s look at one.

Do you need some help?
Of course I do!

Jay is criticizing me here. He’s complaining that I wasn’t helping. If he had asked for help though, it could be different.

Vicki, can you help?
Yes, of course.
Thank you.

Of course is polite here and we’re both happy. So what’s going on? Sometimes ‘of course’ is polite and sometimes it’s not. Well, to understand this, you need to know what ‘of course’ really means.

Double word score. Ha ha. We’re playing scrabble today. I love scrabble.
Vicki’s winning, of course.
By fifty points.
She always wins.

So what does ‘of course’ mean? It means obviously.

I’m really good at scrabble so of course I’m going to win. It’s obvious

If something is obvious – easy to see or understand – we can say ‘of course’. And that’s why we often use ‘of course’ when we say ‘yes’ to requests.

My battery’s flat. Can I use your phone?
Yes, of course.

Of course means the answer is obvious. You know I want to help. Please go ahead. So when people ask us for something, we often say ‘of course’.

Can I borrow these?
Of course!

‘Of course’ means ‘yes’ here and it implies you should already know the answer. Obviously I’m happy for you borrow them.
Now that was a request, but what about offers? When someone offers us something, can we say ‘of course’? Let’s see.

Do you want some more water?
Of course.

Of course isn’t polite here. If an answer is obvious you should know it already.

Of course I want some more water. Why are you asking? Are you an idiot?

‘Of course’ means he thinks I’m stupid. That’s not nice. So what’s the polite way to respond to an offer?

Do you want some more water?
Yes, please.

A simple yes. That’s what you need. Just say ‘yes’ without ‘of course’. Let’s look at another example. Suppose I ask about you about the weather.

What’s the forecast? Is it going to rain?
Yes, of course.

Of course is strange here. It could be a rude because it implies ‘Why are you asking me this? You should already know the answer.’ But I didn’t know the answer. Here’s a better response.

What’s the forecast? Is it going to rain?
Yes, it is.
Oh. I’ve got my car so I can give you a lift if you like.
Thank you very much.

Now that conversation is polite. If someone asks a question and they don’t know the answer, say a simple yes.
Now one more thing. The opposite of course is ‘Of course not’. Again, we say it to add emphasis.

Are you wearing my perfume?
Of course not!

‘Of course not’ means definitely not. Absolutely not.
So can we use ‘of course not’ reply to requests in a polite way? Well possibly. It can happen when we use the verb ‘mind’.

Do you mind if I borrow these?
Of course not.
Thank you.

‘Of course not’ is polite here because of the word ‘mind’. ‘Do you mind?’ means ‘do you object?’ So ‘of course not’ means, ‘No, I don’t object – Obviously I’m happy for you to borrow them’. ‘Mind’ is an unusual verb and we’ve made another video about it. I’ll put a link here.
OK. Let’s check you’ve understood. You’re going to see Geri asking me two questions. Are my answers appropriate or not? And if not, what should I say?

Are you ready?
I love your necklace. Is it new?
Yes, of course.

Did you hear the storm last night?
Yes, of course

Were my answers appropriate? No! Geri’s questions were normal questions, not requests, and she didn’t know what my answer would be. Let’s look at what I should have said.

I love your necklace. Is it new?
Yes. I bought it last week.
It’s very nice.

Did you hear the storm last night?
Yes, I certainly did! Wasn’t it loud?
Lots of thunder.
Yes and lightning too.

Did you get them right? Well done.
OK. I have one more question for you. Do you want to see some more of our videos? I hope you said ‘Yes, of course’. You can subscribe to our channel and if you click the little bell icon too, you’ll get notified when we make a new video. Thanks so much for watching and see you next week! Bye!

Click here to learn how to use can, could and may to ask for permission
Click here to learn how to use the verb mind in polite requests
Click here to learn more polite phrases for everyday English conversation

Why it’s sometimes hard to understand English speakers (Hints)

Why it’s sometimes hard to understand English speakers (Hints)

One of reasons it’s hard to understand English speakers is we don’t say what we mean. Really! We often say one thing, when we mean another!

In this video you’ll learn how to understand English speakers when they drop hints and make indirect requests. We look at some common ambiguous English phrases and explore the social benefits that ambiguity can bring.


To learn the key phrases you need to ask for things more directly, click here .
To learn lots of polite everyday English phrases and expressions, click here.

Hints and Indirect Requests Video Script

There are lots of reasons why English speakers can be hard to understand and today we’re going to look at one of them. The thing is sometimes we don’t say what we mean. We say one thing but we mean another. This lesson is going to help you understand us, even when we’re indirect.
Let’s look at an example.

Is that pizza?
Yeah, come and have some.
Oh thank you.

Look at what Jay said here. Did he really mean ‘Is that pizza?’ Of course it was pizza. He really meant ‘I want some pizza’? So what’s happening here is Jay’s dropping a hint. A hint is something we say that suggests something indirectly.
When people want things, they often drop hints. Let’s look at some more examples. Lisa’s going to ask three questions. What does she really mean?

Are you going past a mail box on your way home?
Oh, are you going to get coffee?
Have you got a moment?

Did you understand her? Let’s see what she really meant.

Are you going past a mail box on your way home?
Yes, do you want me to post something for you?
Yes, I would like that.

So she meant ‘I want you to post a letter for me’. OK, next one.

OK, I’m off
Are you going to get coffee?
Yes, would you like me to get one for you too?
I would like that very much.

So she wants me to get her a coffee. OK. Last one.

Have you got a moment?
Yes, how can I help?

She wants some help. Now notice Lisa’s questions were all ambiguous. They might mean one thing, or they might mean another.
Maybe she wanted to know my route home. Maybe she wanted to know where I was going. Maybe she wanted to know how much time I have. Her questions weren’t 100% clear. They were ambiguous.
Researchers have found people are often ambiguous when they make requests and it seems to have two important social benefits. Firstly, being ambiguous can create the appearance of agreement and harmony. We like to agree with one another if we can.
Suppose you have a tray of biscuits and I say, ‘Mmmm. Those biscuits look nice’ What will you say? I hope you’ll say ‘Oh, please have one’, then I’m happy because I get a biscuit and you’re happy because you want to give me one. We both get what we want and the world is harmonious.

Oh those cookies look really good.
Have one. Jason, have one too.
Thank you

Now the other reason we’re ambiguous. It’s because it makes it easier to say ‘no’. Let’s see how it works.

Oh those cookies look really good.
Yes, I made them for Jason’s kids.
How old are your kids Jason?
Oliver’s eleven and Lola’s six.

So do you see what happened there? We could all pretend that Jay hadn’t asked for a cookie and I didn’t have to say no.
Here’s another example.

Can I have some of that pizza?
Errr, I bought it for the internet team.
Oh, no problem
Sorry.

Now that conversation was more difficult. Jay asked directly and Kathy had to say no. She felt bad. But what if Jay’s ambiguous.

Is that pizza?
Yes, it’s for the internet team. They’re going to be working late tonight.
Oh, is there a problem?
Yeah, the servers down.
Oh my.

That conversation was easier. He and Kathy both pretended he’d never asked.
So if you ask directly, you go on record. People have to say no. But if you’re ambiguous you can take back the request and the conversation can take a different path. Ambiguous requests can be good for relationships and that’s why people are often indirect.
OK, now it’s your turn. You’re going to see Jason making four indirect requests – dropping four hints. You have to decide if Jay’s answers are appropriate, and if not how should he reply? Are you ready?

Is that door open?
Yup.
Is it cold in here or is it just me?
It’s just you.
Is that today’s paper?
Uhuh.
Vicki said you’re going to the movies tonight.
Yes, we are.

Were Jay’s answers appropriate? No. What should he have said? Let’s see.

Is that door open?
Oh yes. I’ll close it.
Is it cold in here or is it just me?
Ooo. I’ll put the heating up.
Is that today’s paper?
Yeah, here you are.
Ah, thanks.
Jay said you’re going to the movies tonight.
Yeah, do you want to come too?
Oh I’d love to.

Did you get them right? That’s great. Then now you should know how to understand English speakers when they don’t say what they mean.
If you want to say what you mean very clearly in English, we have lots of videos with natural English conversations to help you. Make sure you subscribe to our channel and check out some more of our lessons.

To learn the key phrases you need to ask for things more directly, click here .
To learn lots of polite everyday English phrases and expressions, click here.

Get what you want in English – orders, requests and suggestions

Get what you want in English – orders, requests and suggestions

Learn three ways to get people to do what you want in English.

In this lesson we contrast orders, requests and suggestions with the help of our special guest: Super Agent Awesome.

At it’s heart, this is a lesson in English pragmatics and in particular, directives. We compare the force that typically goes with structures like ‘Do it’, ‘Could you do it?’ and ‘Why don’t you do it?’

English directives video script

Orders, requests and suggestions. What’s the difference and how and when do we make them in English? Let’s find out.

Aaron, take that away.
I need to work. Could you play somewhere else?
Are you bored, Aaron? Why don’t you go outside to play?

Do you need to get people to do what you want in English? Then this lessons for you. There are lots of different ways but we’re going to look at three common ones today and compare them. First, orders.

Oh, well give me your number. Give me your pen.
I need it.
Just for a moment.
You’ll give it back.
I just want to borrow it. Sorry, what was that?

Oh, well give me your number. Give me your pen.
I need it.
Just for a moment.
You’ll give it back.
I just want to borrow it. Sorry, what was that?

Instructions like these are direct and to the point. We just say what they have to do. But we can be less direct and ask people to do things instead. So here’s a second way.

Could you pass the cheese?
Sure.
Thank you.

Could you pass the cheese?
Sure.
Thank you.

So instead of telling people to do things, we can ask them with requests like this. OK, so what’s the third way of getting people to do what you want? Well, we can be even more indirect and make suggestions.

Ahhh. I am so tired.
Why don’t you go and lie down?
That’s a really good idea.

Ahhh. I am so tired.
Why don’t you go and lie down?
That’s a really good idea.

So orders, requests, suggestions – what’s the difference? In theory we use orders when we can force someone to do something. If we have power, we can command them.

Aaron, take that away.
Aaron, take that away.

Requests are a bit different because if we ask someone to do something, they have a choice.

I need to work. Could you play somewhere else?
I need to work. Could you play somewhere else?

So how are requests different from suggestions? Well, the idea is we use requests when we think something will be good for us. And we use suggestions when it’ll be good for them.

Are you bored Aaron? Why don’t you go outside to play?
Are you bored Aaron? Why don’t you go outside to play?

Researchers have found that English speakers often make requests and suggestions where, in other languages, people might just give orders. It’s like we want to pretend that the other person has a choice even when they don’t. Why do we do that? I don’t know. It’s just a custom.
But it theory it’s like this: order, request, suggestion. Forcing them, good for us, good for them – in theory. In practice it’s a bit more complicated because it depends who’s talking and what the situation is and we have lots of other ways to get people to do what we want. Make sure you subscribe to our channel so we can show you more in our future videos.

Where are you?
I’m right here.
Oh look at this. Special Agent Awesome. And Special Agent Awesome has a special message about why you should watch Simple English Videos.
It teaches people how to speak English in the right way.
Oh that’s great. Thank you for appearing in a video with us. You are a star yourself.
You’re welcome. Simple English Videos is the best way to learn English on Youtube. Subscribe right now. And that’s it. This is the special announcement over, so cut!

We just have one more special announcement. Starting this Sunday, The English Show is live on YouTube. We’ll be there and our good friend Fluency MC will be live in Paris. So come and join us. You don’t want to miss this.

Sometimes people aren’t direct and they don’t say what they want clearly.  Click here and learn how English speakers sometimes say one thing when they mean another. 
We have a free checklist to help you fix common English mistakes. Click here to learn more about Fix It.

You’re not fat! Greeting someone who’s pregnant

You’re not fat! Greeting someone who’s pregnant

Sometimes Jay can be so embarrassing! Here’s what you shouldn’t say when you greet someone who’s pregnant.

Knock on door
Rachel.
Hi Rachel.
Come in sit down. How are you?
Fine thanks.
Have you put on weight?
Don’t be silly Jay. Rachel’s expecting
You’re going to have a baby
Yes.
Oh congratulations! So you’re not fat.

https://www.simpleenglishvideos.com/wait-hope-expect-look-forward-to/ to learn how we use the verb expecting to talk about pregnancy.
Click here to see more conversations for speaking practice.