overused word literally meaning

Literally – an overused word?

Is the word literally overused?
And how many syllables does the word literally have?
In this video we compare three different meanings of literally:
1. in a literal way, so with the exact meaning of the words you’re using
2. literally meaning ‘really’ or in ‘truth’
3. literally meaning virtually, when it’s used to exaggerate for effect
Meaning 3 is an example of hyperbole, and it contradicts meaning 1. So literally has opposite meanings.
Many people feel literally shouldn’t be used with meaning 3.
However many great writers in English literature have used literally for dramatic effect.
Also, literally is not the only English word that has two opposite meanings. We also look at the word wicked which can mean very good and very bad, and the verb to dust meaning to remove or to apply dust.

Is the word literally overused?

Did you hear the storm last night?
Yeah, lightning struck a tree across the street.
Really?
Yeah, I literally jumped out of my skin.
Is it possible to literally jump out of your skin?

We had an interesting question from a viewer called Peter.
He said, ‘I hear people saying literally for almost everything. It seems like an overuse of the word. What do you think about it?’
Literally. Some people use this word a lot.
You say literally. 4 syllables.
Literally. What do you say then?
I can say it the same way, but if I’m speaking fast, I say literally. Lit(e)-ral-ly. Three syllables.
Is that a British English thing?
I think so. But the next question is: what does literally mean?
It has three meanings.
The first one is in a literal way – so with the exact meaning of the words you’re using.

The traditional dress of Japan is a ‘kimono’, which literally means a ‘thing to wear’.
And here’s another Japanese word: karate. It literally means the ‘art of empty hands’.

If we mean something literally, it means according to the actual words.
The words with their most basic meaning.
OK, that’s the first meaning. What about the second?
It’s similar. Literally can mean something like ‘really’ or ‘in truth’.
We say literally when something is surprising and we want to emphasize that it is true.

There are literally more than three trillion trees on earth. That’s more trees than there are stars in the galaxy.
And here’s another surprising thing. Did you know that moose are good swimmers? They can literally swim six miles an hour. That’s about 10 kilometers an hour.

But how far can they swim?
A long way. They can keep going for two hours or more. They’re literally excellent swimmers.
So literally means ‘truly’ or ‘really’ in that sentence.
It was surprising, but there was no exaggeration.
Right. And the third meaning of literally is a little different.
That’s when we use ‘literally’ to emphasize things.
So surprising things again.
But this time, they’re not true. They’re false.
Let’s see how it works.

I can’t home yet. I’m literally up to my ears in work.
It was so funny.
We literally died laughing.
She’s literally as tall as a house.
The exam was so hard, his head literally exploded.
I’m so hungry I could literally eat a horse. Or maybe not.
I was so surprised you could have literally knocked me down with a feather.
I’m leaving.
No wait. It’ll literally only take me two seconds to get to you. See! Literally two seconds.

There’s a technical word for examples like this: hyperbole.
Hyperbole – four syllables. Hyperbole is when we exaggerate to add emphasis, or just because it sounds funny.
So let’s review the three meanings and see how they compare.
The first meaning is about the literal meaning of words and it’s exact and very factual. The second meaning is factual too, but this time it adds emphasis to say something is really true. The third meaning adds emphasis as well. But here, you change the original meaning of the words and exaggerate.
Notice that meaning one and meaning three are very different. They’re practically opposites. In meanings one and two, you’re being factual and telling the truth. But with meaning three, you don’t stick to the original meaning of the words. Instead of telling the truth, you exaggerate to get an effect.
Some people think it’s wrong to use literally with meaning three. It’s controversial and people have strong opinions about it. They think you should just use meanings one and two. But you’ll hear meaning three a lot in spoken English. It’s pretty informal and it’s becoming more frequent.
Is meaning three a new usage of the word?
People are using it more often but actually it’s an old usage. Lots of great writers in English literature have used it for effect.

It was used by great writers like Charles Dickens.
And F. Scott Fitzgerald.
And James Joyce.
William Thackeray.
And Charlotte Brontë

So do you think it’s OK to use literally to exaggerate?
Yes and no. Yes, because people use it that way and it’s becoming more common.
Oh right. You can’t stop language change.
Exactly. But also maybe no, because a lot of people complain about it.
Then perhaps use it, but just a little.
Yes, not too often.
I think people complain about when it’s used too much.
And also because they don’t like the idea that one word can have two opposite meanings.
But there are other words that do that. For example: wicked.
Yes, wicked can mean evil. So a wicked witch is very bad. But in informal English, wicked can also mean ‘very good’.
For example, we can say someone has a wicked sense of humor, and it means it’s very good.
There aren’t many words with two opposite meanings like this, but there are a few.
Let’s see if you can spot one.
To dust is an interesting verb because if you’re cleaning your house, you dust it. Dust means removing the dust.
But dust can also mean to cover something with sugar or flour. So if you’re baking cakes you can dust them with sugar.
So dust can mean removing or applying. It has opposite meanings.
Sometimes an English word can have two opposite meanings.
And literally is one of them.
So are we done?
Yes, that’s literally all we have for you this week.
If you’ve enjoyed this video please, share it with a friend.
And don’t forget to subscribe everyone.
See you all next week. Bye-bye.
Bye.

How good is your English

How good is your English? Let’s see!

This video English quiz is about mistakes English learners often make. We look at:
– interested and interesting
– the mistake how long time
– the different meanings of the verbs take and last
control vs. check
high vs. tall
– prepositions we use with the verb pay
We’ll ask you to identify 8 common English mistakes and choose your answer before the clock stops ticking.
We’ll then explain what’s wrong and show you examples of the correct English in action. We’ll also help you find more videos if you want more help with grammar and vocabulary.

If you’d like to see more examples, click the links to these videos:
Interested and interesting
How long does it take?
How long does it last? and take vs. last
Check and control
High and tall
Pay and prepositions

How good is your English?
We’re going to test you today.
We’ve got some common mistakes and we’re going to fix them!
OK, let’s jump right in. We’ll ask you some questions and you have to choose your answer before the clock stops ticking.
They’re all about mistakes that people often make when they’re learning English.
Maybe you make them, or maybe you don’t. Let’s see.

Interesting or interested?

OK. Here’s your first question. Imagine you’ve found a great book – it’s so good you can’t stop reading it.
You can’t put it down. What would you say about it?
I’m very interested in this book.
I’m very interesting in this book.
‘Interesting’ and ‘interested’ are both adjectives.
We use ‘interested’ to say how we feel. We use ‘interesting’ to describe the person or thing that causes the feeling.
It can sound funny if you make a mistake with this.
If you say ‘I’m very interesting’ it means you think YOU are very interesting. ‘I’m very interesting’ – it sounds conceited.
But you could say that a character in a book is interesting.
Yes, because then the character makes you feel interested.

This is a very interesting book.
Uhuh.
And I’m very interesting in this book.
What?
This is a book about me.

So -ed describes the feeling and -ing describes the thing that causes the feeling.
This is worth learning because there are lots of other adjectives that follow this pattern.
There’s a link here to a video we’ve made about it. If you’re not sure, go study it!
Let’s have another question.

Time questions

OK. Next one. Your boss has given you a project to do and you’re negotiating the schedule.
She wants you to estimate the time it will take, so what does she ask?
Here are three questions. Are any of them wrong?
How long do you need?
How long time do you need?
How much time do you need?
‘How long time’ is wrong. A lot of students make this mistake.
The phrase ‘how long’ already includes the idea of time.
You could say ‘How much time?’ That works. But normally we just say ‘how long’. ‘How long do you need?’
So don’t say ‘how long time’. That’s wrong!

Take and last

OK, we have another question about time now and it’s a missing word question.
What’s the missing verb here?
How long does it _____ for the moon to travel round the earth?

It takes twenty seven days, seven hours, forty three minutes and eleven point six seconds for the moon to travel around the earth.

We use ‘take’ to talk about the time that’s needed to do something – the time that’s required.
So we often use ‘take’ to talk about journey times and jobs.

So what do you think of my proposal?
Um, I’d like to think about it for a while.
Of course. Take as long as you like. So what do you think?

OK let’s have another question.
All right. Imagine you’ve got a really bad cold and you want to go to the beach this weekend. What are you thinking?
How long is this cold going to take?
How long is this cold going to last?
We’d say last here because we’re talking the about the time it continues.
It’s not the time that’s needed or required to get something done.
It’s about how long something goes on for – or how long it will exist for.
Here’s another example.

Do you want to play a game?
Yeah.
OK. You take a sweet and I’ll take a sweet.
You mean candy.
Uhuh. No, no, no, stop. We put them in our mouths at the same time. The winner is the person who makes their sweet last the longest.
It’s not how fast I can eat it?
No, it’s the opposite.
So I need to make it last a long time?
That’s right.
OK. Ready, set, go.

It’s tricky because we use the verbs take and last to talk about a duration of time.
It’s no wonder students get them confused.
But we use ‘take’ more than we use ‘last’.
Yes, ‘take’ is more common. If you want more help with take and last, check out this playlist.
Next question.

Check and control

OK, this one’s about the verbs ‘control’ and ‘check’.
Imagine you’re telling someone about a flight you took.
Which sentence is correct here?
They stopped us at immigration and controlled our passports.
They stopped us at immigration and checked our passports.
So they check your passports to make sure they’re OK.
But when we go through immigration, there’s a sign saying ‘passport control’.
I know. It’s really confusing. But at immigration they check your passport.
When we examine something to make sure it’s OK or correct, we check it.

Is something wrong?
Is this your car?
Yes.
When was the last time you checked the air in these tires?
I can’t remember.

So that’s checking, but controlling is different.
Controlling is about managing something, or directing it.
Yeah.

Brrrr. I’m cold. I’ll check the thermostat to see if it’s working. The thermostat controls the temperature. Are you cold, Jay?
No, I’m hot.

The thermostat controls the temperature – it manages it.
If you’d like more examples, click this link.
Let’s have an easy one now.

High and tall

OK. Imagine you want to know someone’s height. What question are you going to ask?
How tall are you?
How high are you?

I’m taller than you.
No, you’re not.
Yes, I am.
How did you do that?

We generally use tall when we’re talking about long thin things.
Like people, trees and skyscrapers
And if things are wider than they’re tall, we say high.
For example, a high wall, high waves in the ocean.
So if you say someone is tall, you’re talking about their height.
And if you say someone is high, it means something completely different.
It means they’re on drugs.
You don’t want to make that mistake!
If you want to know more, here’s a video with lots of examples.
OK, next question.

Pay and prepositions

All right. Imagine you’re in an English pub with a friend and you order a round.
A round is a drink for everyone in the group.
Your friend starts to pay the bill, but you want to pay instead. What will you say?
I’ll pay the drinks.
I’ll pay for the drinks.
We pay FOR things that we buy.
But when we say the person we pay, there’s no preposition.
I paid the waiter for the drinks.

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

There are several different prepositions we use with pay – pay for, pay by, pay in …
And sometimes we just say pay with no preposition.
Check this video to learn more. And I’ll put links to all the videos we’ve talked about in the description below.
Is that it for today?
Yeah. How did you do on the quiz?
And was it useful?
If you enjoyed it and would like another quiz one day, tell us in the comments.
And give us a thumbs up.
And why not share this video with a friend?
We’ll be back next Friday with a new video, so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.
See you next week everyone.
Bye-bye.
Bye.

If you’d like to see more examples, click the links to these videos:
Interested and interesting
How long does it take?
How long does it last? and take vs. last
Check and control
High and tall
Pay and prepositions

how to report an emergency in English

Emergency English – making a 911 or 211 call

This lesson’s about how to make English emergency calls such as a 911 or 112 call.
You’ll learn how to report an emergency in English and how to report your location to get help fast.
We give examples of different emergencies you might need to report like:
– Someone’s choked on some food
– I think someone’s trying to break into my home
– There’s been a car accident
– Someone’s walked into a glass window
We also look at questions response workers typically ask such as:
– Are they male or female?
– How old is he?
– Is he conscious?
– Is he breathing?
Finally we’ll show you an English emergency call so you can see some of the phrases in action.

Click here to see more vocabulary lessons.

How to report an emergency in English

Hi. I’m Vicki and you’re going to learn some words and phrases that we hope you’ll never need!
And I’m Jay and this lesson is really important. It’s vocabulary you must learn, just in case.
If there’s an emergency, what number do you dial for help?
In the US it’s 911.
And in the UK it’s 999 or 112. It’s 112 in most European countries.
Emergency numbers are generally short – usually just three numbers.
So you can remember them and dial them quickly.
They’ll connect you to the service you need, like ambulance, police or fire.

What’s your emergency?
What emergency are you reporting?
What service do you need? Ambulance, police or fire brigade?

What do we call the people who answer the phones?
Well, they have several names. They’re operators because they operate the phones.
Or responders because they answer questions and do things.
Or dispatchers because they send people to help.
My husband has choked on some food and he’s not breathing.
Help! My house is on fire.
I think someone’s trying to break into my home.
My son walked into a glass window and cut his head.
There’s a guy in Falworth Park who needs help. I think he’s having a heart attack.
There’s been a car accident on Ridge Pike.
In emergency calls, it’s crucial to state your location – to tell the dispatchers where you are.
Location is the most important thing. If they don’t know where you are, they can’t send help.

What’s your location?
What’s the address?
What’s the address of the emergency?
Where are you exactly?

Give any useful information you can about location.
You need to be exact and as helpful as possible.

It’s 4 Vandyke Street and we’re in flat 6 on the second floor.
It’s the building on the corner, with two big antennas.

You might be able to name a local landmark or nearby business.

We’re in front of the Philadelphia art museum.
We’re across the road from the Bagel Factory.

The address is really crucial, so the dispatchers will want to check they’ve got it right.

Can you repeat it to make sure I have it correctly?
So the address is 20 Vandyke Street? That’s where we’re going, right?

Once they have the address they can send help. But stay on the line so they can collect more information.
If someone is hurt or injured, they’ll ask you about the patient.

Is the patient male or female?
How old is he?

You might not know the patients’ age and that’s all right. You can make a rough guess.

She’s a young teenager.
Oh, he’s middle-aged.
She looks like she’s in her late twenties.

Two more important questions are ‘are they conscious?’ and ‘are they breathing?’
Conscious means awake and able to understand what’s happening.
And breathing means taking air into the lungs and sending it out again.

Is he conscious?
Is she awake?
Is he breathing?
Does she appear to be breathing?
Is he fully alert?

If you’re alert, you can think quickly and clearly, so you know what’s happening.
The responders may also want information about the accident and what’s happening now.

Tell me exactly what happened?
What’s happening now?
Are you with the patient right now?
Are you alone?
Is anyone helping?
Is someone giving first aid?
Is anyone giving CPR?

First aid is simple medical treatment that we give to people before a doctor comes.
CPR is the abbreviation for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It’s when you press on someone’s chest to keep them alive if they’ve stopped breathing or if their heart has stopped beating.
The emergency service might want you to stay and help.
And then they’ll give you instructions.

An English emergency call

My co-worker fell off a ladder and he’s bleeding.
Where are you?
We’re at the construction site at 20th and Arch.
So the address is 20th and Arch? Is that where we’re going?
Yes. The south west corner. We’re on the first floor.
The south west corner of 20th and Arch. First floor. Is that right?
Yes.
How old is your co-worker?
He’s about fifty. Please come quick.
Help is on the way. They’ll be with you shortly. Is he conscious?
No.
Is he breathing?
Is he breathing, Mike?….
Yes. he’s breathing.
Is someone with you?
Yes, my supervisor Mike is here.
He’s coming round.
He’s coming around.
So the patient is conscious?
Yes, but he needs stitches.
Is there serious bleeding?
Yes, from his head.
Is there blood spurting out or pouring out?
No.
OK. Don’t move him unless it’s absolutely necessary. Tell him to sit still and wait for help to arrive.
Tell him to sit still, Mike. Is anyone coming?
Yes, help is on the way.

Coming around means becoming conscious again.
So you’re unconscious and then you come round or come to. It means become conscious.
We saw a lot of blood there.
Blood is the red liquid that flows through your body.
If blood is spurting, it’s coming from an artery. The heart pumps blood through arteries.
And if blood is pouring, it’s probably coming from a vein, and it’s on its way back to the heart.
When you lose blood, you bleed. So bleed is the verb. Bleed, bled, bled.
He was bleeding from a wound in his head. A wound is an injury where there’s a hole in your skin.
And a stitch is a short piece of thread that doctors use to sew the edges of a wound together.

I’m going to give you some instructions to control the bleeding, so listen carefully.
OK.
Do you have a clean dry towel or cloth?
Mike does, yes.
Place it on the wound and press down firmly. Don’t lift it up to look.
Hold it down on the wound, Mike. Press it firmly. Don’t lift it up.
OK.
If he becomes less awake and vomits, quickly turn him on his side.
OK. Help is on the way?
Yes, they’ll be with you in just a minute.
Oh, I can hear them. Thank you, thank you so much.

To vomit means to be sick. To bring up your food.
We’ve made another video about that and other sickness vocabulary.
I’ll put the link here.
And another thing you heard was a siren.
Ambulances, police cars and fire engines all have sirens. [makes the noise]
No that’s a British siren. An American one goes [makes the noise]
And that’s it everyone!
Are we finished?
Yeah.
But there’s one more thing we should mention. Don’t call the emergency services unless you really need them!
Don’t make calls that waste their time.
Only call if it’s an emergency.
It’s got to be something where you need help right way.
A medical emergency or immediate danger.
We hope that never happens to you!
Now, if you think this video was useful, please share it with a friend.
And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and click the notification bell so you hear about our future videos.
See you next week, bye-bye.
Bye.

Click here to see more vocabulary lessons.

quite in British and American English

The trickiest word in English – Quite!

Is the meaning of the adverb quite, very or completely? It looks like a small difference but it can lead to big misunderstandings.
Sometimes quite means the same thing in British and American English, but sometimes it’s used differently.
In this video we show you
– how to use quite to mean completely
– how to use not quite (meaning not completely) to criticize someone gently or say you disagree.
– how quite can mean very in American English, but fairly or pretty in British English
– how you can sometimes tell the meaning of quite by whether it’s used with a gradable or ungradable adjectives.
Finally we have some advice for any American guys who are going on a date with a British girl.
Don’t tell her she’s quite pretty!

Click here to see more videos on British and American English.

 

The adverb quite

Hi everyone. I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American and today we’re looking at a word that’s quite tricky.
No, it’s very tricky.
But that’s what I said!
No you didn’t!
I speak British English and Jay speaks American English and normally, we manage to communicate OK.
But there’s a word that causes us problems. Quite.
It’s such a common word. We both use it a lot.
But it’s the word that’s hardest for us to understand.
Sometimes we use it in the same way, but sometimes we use it differently.
And then we get confused.
Quite.
Quite?
Let’s look at some examples.

Have you finished the artwork yet?
No. I’m not quite ready. I need another five minutes.
Take your time. I’m quite happy to wait.
Do you want to go and get a coffee or something?
No, I’m quite all right thanks. I’ve had quite enough coffee today. That’s not quite correct.
Just go away!
What’s your problem?

Here are some of the things we said. ‘Quite’ is an adverb and it means ‘completely’ in all these examples. It means to the greatest possible degree – 100%. We can use it this way in British and American English
And you heard quite in two negative sentences too, where it means not completely – so almost, but not 100%. Again it can have this meaning in British and American English. We often use quite in the negative like this to criticize someone gently or to say we disagree with them.
So we might say ‘I don’t quite agree’ or ‘That’s not quite right’.
Yes, and we mean ‘I don’t agree 100%.’ or ‘You’re a little wrong’. Quite softens the disagreement.
It works like that in American and British English.
But there’s another way we use ‘quite’ that’s quite different.

So what did you think of my report?
It’s quite good.
Fantastic. I’ll send it to everybody now.
Hang on. It needs some changes.
But you said it was quite good.
Yes, but we need it to be VERY good.
Huh?

There was a misunderstanding there.
Yeah, I thought you liked my report.
Well, I thought it was fairly good or pretty good, but not very good.
But you said it was quite good. If I say that I mean very good. Quite is a forceful word.
It’s not forceful in British English. It just means to some degree.
So let me get this straight. Sometimes when you say ‘quite’ you mean completely, like me.
Yes.
But other times you just mean fairly or pretty.
Yes.
Then how can I tell what you mean?
Well, sometimes you can tell from the kind of adjective we use with quite – whether it’s gradable or ungradable.
We’d better explain that.

Gradable or ungradable

Some English adjectives are gradable, so they can be true to different degrees. For example good is gradable. Something can be very good, or fairly good, or just a little good. But other adjectives are ungradable, for example perfect. We don’t say something is very perfect or fairly perfect or a little perfect. It’s just perfect.
Here are some more examples of ungradable adjectives. Things are either dead or they’re not. People are either married or they’re not. There’s no in-between with these adjectives, so we don’t use them with ‘very’. The meanings of these adjectives already contain the idea of ‘very’.
So here’s what happens in British English. If we use ‘quite’ with an ungradable adjective, we probably mean completely. For example, ‘It’s quite perfect’. It’s 100% perfect. But if we use quite with a gradable adjective, we probably mean ‘fairly’ – so to some extent, but not very. For example, ‘It’s quite nice’ – it’s fairly nice.
So if you say ‘I’m quite tired’, you mean you’re fairly tired.
Yeah, and what about you?
I could mean that, but normally if I say I’m quite tired, I mean I’m very tired.
Pronunciation matters too. If we stress the word ‘quite’ the difference can get more marked.
I’m QUITE tired – that means I’m very very tired
I’m QUITE tired – that means I’m only fairly tired.
There’s another thing you do in British English.
What’s that?
I’ll say something and instead of saying ‘I agree’ you say ‘quite’.
Oh yes. It’s rather formal but to show we agree with someone or to show we’ve understood, we can say ‘quite’ or ‘quite so’. It just means ‘yes’.
It sounds very British.
Quite.
Let’s have a quiz question now.
OK. See if you can answer this everyone, and you Jay. If your American boss says ‘your work is quite good’, what does it mean? Jay?
If my American boss says my work is quite good, I should get a raise. They think my work is very good.
British English is different. If my British boss says my work is quite good, I’d have to ask what I’m doing wrong.
Because it’s only fairly good. Wow!
So the difference in meaning is subtle, but it can be very important.
If you don’t pay attention, you might miss it.
When I came to the US I had to stop and think when people said ‘quite’. ‘Do they mean fairly or do they mean ‘very’? I still have to stop and think sometimes.
And I’ve had to learn the difference too, so I can understand Vicki’s family and friends.
Yeah. Here’s a real example. My British friend was visiting us and meeting Jay for the first time and they were just getting to know one another and talking about their families.
I was telling her about my father and how he spoke six languages and I said ‘He was quite good at languages’.
So my British friend was surprised and she said, ‘Why are you saying that? You said he spoke six languages.’
‘Yeah, he was quite good at languages.’
So my friend was thinking, ‘He’s being derogatory about his father? That’s not nice! If you speak six languages you’re a very good linguist – not just fairly good.
And I was thinking, ‘We’ve only just met. Why is this woman being so argumentative?’ It was like she wanted to pick a fight with me for no reason.
It’s the sort of misunderstanding that can damage relationships.
Yes, it’s dangerous because you might not realise it’s happening.
And one last thing before we stop.
Yeah?
I have some advice for any American guys who are going on a date with a British girl.
What’s that?
Don’t tell her she’s quite pretty. It happened to one of my friends on her first date with an American guy.
What! He told her she was quite pretty?
Yes, he was lucky to get a second date! And that’s it for today everyone.
If you’ve enjoyed this video please share it with a friend and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel. Bye-bye now.
See you next Friday. Bye.

Click here to see more videos on British and American English.

british english slang

British Slang Words Quiz

Play along with a British English slang quiz.

Vicki (who is British) tests Jay (who is American) with 10 British English slang words and he does very well!
You’ll learn 10 slang words and colloquial expressions including:

  • bloke, meaning dude
  • quid, not quids
  • bog and bog roll
  • a tad meaning a little
  • knackered and clapped out
  • skint meaning broke
  • hard cheese meaning hard luck – often ironic
  • peckish meaning a little hungry
  • cheeky meaning disrespectful or funny

We also look at two old-fashioned slang words that you can use as a joke:

  • spiffing meaning splendid
  • tickety-boo meaning fine and dandy

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British English slang words quiz

I have no idea what we’re doing today.
Hi, I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
And I’m going to test Jay to day on his British slang.
Uh-oh. Can they play along?
Yes!
OK.
So how good is your British slang, Jay?
Pretty good. I mean we’ve been together for more than 20 years so I think I know a lot.
I’ve got 10 different expressions here and we’re going to see how many you know.
They’re all British expressions?
Yeah, and they’re all slang, so they’re informal spoken English.
The kind of thing you’d say with your friends.
And if you get them all right, you get a prize.
What’s this?
It’s your prize.
But you can’t look at it yet.
I have to get all of them right first?
Yes. And here’s your first one.

Bloke meaning dude

Bloke. I know what a bloke is. That’s a guy. A dude.
That’s what you’d say in American.
Right.
OK, use it in a sentence.
Bloke?
Yeah.
OK, let’s see. Um. I saw this bloke riding down the street on his bicycle.
Yes, that would work. That would work.
I met a nice bloke last night.
So bloke is just an informal way of saying ‘man’. We might also say chap and fellow. OK and in American you’d say…
I saw this dude riding down the street on a bicycle!
OK, next one.

Quid meaning pound

Quid. Quid. I know this one too. Quid is slang for pound. The currency of the UK.
That’s right. What would be an American equivalent?
A buck!
Oh a buck. Of course. And, erm, what about if you have five of them? What’s the note called?
A five dollar bill? Oh you mean in quids! A five pound note. A fiver!
OK, you just said quids. You’re lucky I don’t take your point away because the plural of quid is quid. It’s an irregular plural because there’s no ‘s’. One quid, two quid, five quid. But American English is different?
Yes, we’d say five bucks, ten bucks, twenty bucks, so we add an s to make it plural.
But you were right to say a fiver. A fiver is the name we give a five pound note and a ten pound note is…
A tenner.
That’s right!
In American English we’d say a five dollar bill and a ten dollar bill. What’s next?
This one.

Bog meaning toilet or loo

Bog. B-O-G. In American English a bog is a swamp.
Yes, a sort of muddy piece of land.
Right. And it’s slang for something else?
Yes.
I have no clue.
I’ll give you another clue. Bog roll.
Is that like… what we would call toilet paper?
Yes. So it’s a toilet roll, and it’s another word for the toilet. So instead of saying I’m going to the toilet, we’d say I’m going to the bog.
In America we never say we’re going to the toilet. We say we’re going to the bathroom.
Yes. You’re very posh.
Bog is a slang way of saying toilet in British English. If you want to be more polite you can say “I’m just going to the loo”.

A tad meaning a little

Ah! A tad. Now a tad always reminds me of a tadpole.
It has nothing to do with a tadpole. A tadpole is a little baby frog.
Right, but it’s little and so that’s how I remind myself that a tad means a little bit in British English. Right?
You’re quite right. It’s a small amount.
So I could be a tad unhappy, a tad disappointed. Does tad always work with negative feelings?
No, no, not at all. You could be a tad pleased. Erm… But you could also have a tad more to eat.
Gotcha.
Or a tad more wine, please. A tad just means a little. For example, “Could I have a tad more time?” It means, ‘Could I have a little more time?”
OK, another one.

Knackered meaning exhausted or clapped out

Knackered. Knackered. I know knackered. Knackered is when you’re exhasuted and your so tired you can’t do anything. You’re knackered.
Exactly. You got that one right. So use it in a sentence.
Let see. Uh. I worked for twelve hours today and I’m completely knackered.
Excellent. Excellent.
It can also mean ‘clapped out’.
What?
So .. so old…
Clapped out?
Clapped out means…
You clapped to many times?
No. No. It means it’s too old or broken down to use any more. So your car could be clapped out or your bike could be clapped out and they can both be knackered as well.
Really? An inanimate object can be knackered?
Yeah. My bike’s knackered. I need a new one.
Hmm.
So knackered has two meanings. One is very tired and exhausted. I’ve been working all day and I’m knackered. And the other is too old and not working well. For example my bike is knackered.
Like me!
OK, another one.

Skint meaning broke

Skint. You know I really don’t know. I think it has something to do with being cheap. Is that right?
Ah. It’s to do with money, but it’s when you have no money.
Oh, so if I say I’m skint, I’m out of cash?
Exactly.
Got it.
Can you lend me some money?
I’m skint!
Yes! So we could say ‘I can’t come out with you tonight because I’m skint’. We could also say ‘I’m broke’. It means the same thing. I’m skint, I’m broke.
OK, next one…

Hard cheese meaning hard luck

Hmm. Hard cheese. Well I think this means hard luck. Too bad.
Yes. That’s right. It’s used as a way to say we’re sorry about something, but we don’t usually mean we’re sorry. So it’s a bit ironic. For example. Oh you need some help? Well, hard cheese! I’m going for my break!
OK, you’ll know this one.

Peckish meaning a little hungry

Oh, peckish.
Peckish means you’re a little hungry, right?
Exactly!
Is it from the verb ‘peck’? To peck? Like a bird pecks at its food?
Oh, maybe. Erm…but if you’re a little bit hungry. Oooo. If you only want to eat a little bit of food, you might peck at your food. That’s when you’re not terribly hungry and you’re eating it. But peckish, yes. A little bit hungry.
So we might say ‘I’m feeling peckish. What’s in the fridge?’ And if someone is only pecking at their food it means they’re only eating a little of it, perhaps because they’re not hungry or not feeling well.
OK, here’s your next one.

Cheeky meaning disrespectful or funny

Mmm. Ah. This one I know too. This is cheeky. Cheeky in American English would be wise-ass.
Ah, OK. Except that’s quite negative. We can use it in a sort of positive and negative way in British English. You could have a child who has a cheeky grin, and it’s quite a cute grin. Erm… But it’s slightly naughty. But naughty in a fun way. And erm yes, but people could also be being cheeky when they’re answering back. If children are cheeky theyre being wise-arses as youd say in American English – or wise-ass.
So cheeky can mean disrespectful in British English. So we might tell a child to stop being cheeky and do as you’re told. And it can also be used in a more positive way too. So if they do something funny we might say ‘You cheeky monkey!’

Spiffing and tickety-boo!

I think we should teach the British word ‘spiffing’.
Where did you learn this word ‘spiffing’?
One of our community members online mentioned that the wig I wore in our last video was spiffing and I had to go look it up. What does it mean?
It means marvelous or wonderful. But it’s a really old-fashioned word. It’s from the last century. You can use spiffing for a joke. He was having a joke.
It’s very British upper class, isn’t it?
Yeah. OK, and I’ve got another one that’s like that for you now.
Mmm.
Here you go. Tickety-boo. I can’t even say it without saying it in a British accent. Tickety-boo. It means that’s just perfect.
Erm, yeah. OK. I think in American English you’d say OK. Dandy, or something like that?
A hundred years, a hundred years ago we’d have said dandy. Yeah.
Fine and dandy, and it means everything’s in working order. Everything’s fine. How are things going? Oh, tickety-boo. Everything’s going very well. And it’s very old-fashioned, and today we’ll only use it if we’re joking.
So these are two old-fashioned slang expressions that you can use for a joke.
Spiffing means extremely good or pleasant. And tickety-boo means going well, with no problems.
So how did I do? Have I won the prize?
No, I’m afraid you got skint wrong and you didn’t really know bog.
But I knew bog roll and also, I knew spiffing!
OK, I could give you a bonus point for spiffing.
Great so what’s my prize? Dinner for two at the Indian restaurant. Oh wow! That’s a great prize! Thank you very much. Look at that.
OK everyone. In that case, we’ve got to go. If you’ve enjoyed this video please share it with a friend.
Any don’t forget to subscribe to our channel. See you next week everyone.
Bye-bye!

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useful english adjectives

7 useful English adjectives

Learn some adjectives while you’re shopping with us in Philadelphia. We’ll show you 7 useful English adjectives in action and also some common adjective + preposition phrases.
We look at:
– the adjective chilly and how we use it to talk about the weather and relationships
– major, meaning large and important
financial vs economic
tall vs high
vague meaning not detailed or clear
And we also look at some adjective + preposition phrases like ‘good at’, ‘excellent for’ and ‘fed up with’.

Useful English adjectives

Ladies and gentlemen. Today’s lesson is about…. useful adjectives!
So what are adjectives?
They’re words that describe people or things and give us more information about them.
Words like beautiful, big, new, black, (tugs at shirt) wooden (taps head)
And useful – useful is an adjective!
We’re looking at useful adjectives today.
And a little bit of grammar.
Let’s get going.

Hi everyone. We live in Philadelphia and we’re taking you out shopping with us today.
I’m going to lock the door. It’s a chilly day in Philadelphia.
Yes, but it doesn’t matter because we’re going somewhere warm.
And we’ll show you some sights along the way.
This is John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
It’s a major street in the financial district of Philadelphia.
And there are lots of luxury apartments here and beautiful tall glass skyscrapers.
There are shops too, but they aren’t the only place you can shop around here. There’s somewhere else that we’re going now. It’s a definitely a lot warmer.
Yes. The wind has stopped blowing. This is the part of the underground shopping area connected to Suburban Station.
We’re not exactly sure where the store we’re looking for is, but we’ll keep going.
I need to get me one of those.
But Jay’s got a vague idea, yeah?
Yeah, I think so. I think we have to turn to the south.
OK.
Hey sir, you look good together.
He said we look good together Jay.
Well we are good together.
So this is where we’re going shopping today. This is the wig store. We’ve got a wig at home, but it’s the only one we’ve got and I’m getting a bit bored with it. With all this choice, I’m never going to get fed up with wearing the same wig again.
I’m amazed at the prices. They’re very reasonable.
There are lots of other beauty products here. I’m not very good at makeup.
This one would be excellent for Halloween. So which one are you going to buy?
Thank you very much.
Thank you.

That was fun!
Shall we show them the wig we bought?
Later. First let’s look at some of the adjectives.

It’s a chilly day in Philadelphia.
Yes, but it doesn’t matter because we’re going somewhere warm.

Chilly is a great word to know because we’re always talking about the weather. Chilly means too cold to be comfortable. Like most adjectives it can go in two positions. Before a noun – so a chilly day – or after a linking verb like be, feel, seem, look….
The weather isn’t the only thing we can describe as chilly. It works for relationships too, and then it means not friendly. So we might talk about receiving a chilly welcome, a chilly reception, a chilly response. It means it wasn’t warm and friendly.

This is John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
It’s a major street in the financial district of Philadelphia.

We’ve got two adjectives here. Can you spot them? There’s major – that means very large and important.
A major street, a major city, major heart surgery.
And the second adjective is financial which means connected with money.
Financial services, financial advice, financial difficulties
My students often mix up the adjectives financial and economic.
They are very similar. They both mean ‘to do with money’ so what is the difference?
Normally it’s about scale. Individual people might have financial problems but countries might have economic problems.
And what about companies? They could have financial problems too.
Yes, in the UK, the person in charge of money in a company is usually the Finance Director or Financial Director.
And in the US, it’s the CFO – the Chief Financial Officer.
Yes, and they manage financial planning and reporting. Not the economic planning and reporting.
We usually say economic when we’re talking about the money of countries and nations.
Exactly. OK, next one.

And there are lots of luxury apartments here and beautiful tall glass skyscrapers.

Notice we said the skyscraper was tall there. Not high.
It’s because the skyscrapers are higher off the ground than they’re wide. Long thin things are usually tall, not high.
Like people.
Yes. We’ve made another video about that. I’ll put the link here.
Let’s have another one.

We’re not exactly sure where the store we’re looking for is, but we’ll keep going.
I need to get me one of those.
But Jay’s got a vague idea, yeah?
Yeah, I think so. I think we have to turn to the south.

Vague is a useful word to know.
Something that’s vague, isn’t detailed or clear in our mind.
We might have a vague memory of something that happened in the past, when we can remember it but not clearly.
Or we can have a vague feeling that something isn’t right. And then we discover we’ve left our keys in the front door or something.
People can be vague too, when they don’t give clear information.
Yes. If you’re giving instructions or directions, don’t be vague. OK, another one.

I’m amazed at the prices. They’re very reasonable.

Reasonable – reasonable prices are not too high – not too expensive.
We could also say cheap, but the problem with cheap is it can have another meaning – poor quality.
So sometimes cheap means not expensive and it’s a positive thing, but sometimes it means poor quality, and then it has a negative meaning.
If you want to be positive, say reasonable.
You used another adjective there too. You said I’m amazed at the prices.
Yes, I thought they were amazing.
Amazed, amazing. There are lots of pairs of adjectives like this in English – where they end in -ed or -ing.
Interested, interesting, Bored, boring,
The -ed adjectives describe how we feel and the -ing adjectives describe the person or thing that causes the feeling.
We’ve made another video about that too.
I’ll put the link here.
We heard an example of bored.

We’ve got a wig at home, but it’s the only one we’ve got and I’m getting a bit bored with it.

Notice I said ‘with’. I’m bored with it.
Some English adjectives are followed by prepositions, like with, for, at…
So you have to learn which prepositions go with which adjectives.
I said I was amazed AT the prices, but I could also say I was amazed BY the prices.
And it would mean much the same thing. But often only one preposition is possible.
See if you can spot some more adjectives and prepositions.

There are lots of other beauty products here. I’m not very good at makeup.
This one would be excellent for Halloween.
With all this choice, I’m never going to get fed up with wearing the same wig again.

Did you spot them? The first one was good at. We often use ‘at’ to talk about ability so we can be good at things or bad at things or slow or fast at things.
The next one was excellent for. We often use ‘for’ to talk about purpose. So this wig would be excellent for Halloween and this one would be good for our Christmas show.
And the last one was fed up with. The adjective fed up means bored or unhappy so we could get fed up with doing the same thing again and again, or fed up with constant rain. I’m fed up with Jay not emptying the dishwasher.
What me?
Yes you!
OK. Let’s show everyone the wigs we bought.
OK. This one is the one I chose. I think it’s going to be excellent for a spy story.
And here’s another one that I chose for Vicki.
I’m amazed at how good this looks. You can expect to see this is a future video.
And then there was one more. What do you think.
I think this one was probably a mistake.
I thought it looked really good on me. What do you think?
If you have any ideas for how we can use it in a video, please tell us.
And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel.
Yes, if you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it wit a friend.
See you next week everyone. Bye-bye.
Bye.

plate or dish prototype theory

Dish or plate? Prototype theory and English vocabulary

What’s the difference between a plate and a dish in English? In some languages there’s just one word.
It’s not a simple answer because the meanings of words often overlap.
In this English lesson we explain when we say dish or plate and look at the features of:
– plates, dishes, cups, mugs and bowls
– different kinds of games
We show how the meanings of words can be fuzzy at the edges and it leads us to linguistic prototype theory.
We draw on the work of two different writers:
– the philosopher Wittgenstein and his work on words that share a family resemblance
– the psychologist Eleanor Rosch and prototype theory
If you’re interested in this topic, a great book to read is ‘Words in the Mind’ by Jean Aitchison. She explores how we store words in our brain.

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Plate or dish?

We had a great question from a viewer called Aurum last week.
Aurum asked what’s the difference between a dish and a plate? Some languages have only one word.
A dish is a container or bowl. It’s usually pretty shallow, so not very deep.
We serve food from a dish and sometimes we cook food in it too.
But sometimes a dish is a particular type of food that’s served as part of a meal.
Like a fish dish or a pasta dish.
A plate is flat and usually round. We put our food on it and eat from it.
And in American English, a plate can also be a whole main course of a meal.
But not in British English.
No?
No. Aurum’s question looked simple, but when you go deeper, it’s quite tricky.
There are lots more words like this. Let’s look at some.

What do we call this in our house, Jay?
This is a mug.
And why do we call it a mug?
Because it has a handle and I drink coffee out of it.
OK. What’s the difference between a mug and a cup?
Well a mug doesn’t have a saucer and it’s taller.
OK. Then what’s this?
Well, this is what we call your coffee cup. Cup!
But it doesn’t have a saucer and it’s tall.
Yes, but it has curved sides and mugs have straight sides.
So we call this a cup because it has curved sides. OK, what’s this?
This is a bowl.
And what’s this?
That’s a bowl too.
So size doesn’t matter.
Well size always matters but in this case what’s important is that they have curved sides.
OK. What’s this?
That’s a bowl.
But it has straight sides.
Yeah, but it’s a bowl.
It isn’t a mug?
No. Cups and mugs have handles and bowls don’t.
OK. So this isn’t a bowl?
Yes, I’d call that a bowl because it’s bigger than a cup.
But you just said size doesn’t matter for bowls. OK. What about this?
It’s a bowl.
And not a plate, right?
No, plates are flat. Bowls are deeper like that. But it’s also a dish.
Why?
Well, we share food from it. If we share food from it, it’s a dish.
So it’s a bowl and a dish.
Yes!

Wow! That was confusing!
Yes. It’s because the meaning of words often overlap with other words. Another meaning starts before one meaning has finished.
So we call this a cup, but we could also call it a mug. It’s part cup and part mug.
Exactly. The boundaries between the words are fuzzy. There’s no clear dividing line between their meanings.
Are there more words like this?
Oh yes, lots. What about the word game? What does game mean?

Wittgenstein and words that share a family resemblance

You mean a board game like Monopoly, or a card game like poker?
Yes. Or a game like football or tennis.
Or computer games.
Or the Olympic Games. What do they all have in common?
Well there’s competition. We compete against another person or another team. If it’s a game we can win or lose.
But there’s also the game of patience.
We call that solitaire. It’s a card game you play on your own.
And what if a child throws a ball against a wall? It’s a game, but it’s not a competition.
OK. Is it that games are all amusing and fun?
Well, that’s often true, but some games are quite serious like chess, or war games.
Is it about skill? We need to learn and practice a game to play well – like chess or football? They require skill.
Skill can be important, but in some games, you can win by chance. Like roulette or bingo. You don’t need skill to win them.
So there are different features of the word ‘game’: competitive, amusing, skillful. But we don’t need all the features to call something a game.
Exactly. The meanings of words are often a group of ideas that are similar. But they don’t all have to be true for the meaning to work. They just have to have a family resemblance.
OK. Here’s a big question. What does this mean if you’re learning English?
It means words you have in your language might not match English words exactly. They could be similar in some ways but different in others.
Because the word boundaries might be different.
That’s right. And there’s some interesting research about that.

Prototype theory and English vocabulary

In the 1970s a psychologist, called Eleanor Rosch, ran some experiments on prototypes. A prototype is a typical example of something. For example, she showed people lots of dogs and asked them what’s the doggiest dog for you? A sheep dog, a bull dog, a collie, a dachshund, a Pekingese? So she wasn’t asking what dogs people liked. She was asking what kind of dog is most typical of all dogs.
She asked the same question about lots of different categories of things. For example birds, vegetables, toys, pieces of furniture. And she discovered two things. The first one was people kept ranking things in the same way. Their answers were very consistent. For example, most people thought a chair was the best example of a piece of furniture and a lamp wasn’t very good.
And the second thing Eleanor discovered was very curious. People believed the words must share some common features. So for example, they’d look at different birds and say they’re birds because they can all fly. But a penguin can’t fly and an ostrich can’t fly. Flying is a common feature of birds but it’s not a necessary feature. People kept looking for necessary features that don’t exist.

So things in her categories shared some features, but not all of them.
Yeah, and the things that shared the most features were the best prototypes.
It was like the word ‘game’. Different games have some features in common, but they don’t share all of them.
Our brains want to think that words fit neatly into categories and that there are clear boundaries where one word stops and another begins.
But that’s not how it works. The meanings of words are fuzzy at the edges.
You can’t always separate them with clear lines.
And this is something that’s true for all languages.
I have a question.
What’s that?
What’s the birdiest bird for you?
Oh it’s the robin. Definitely.
For me it’s the sparrow.
Really? But robins are such a common bird.
But in the UK, the most common bird is a sparrow.
Wow. So maybe we have different ideas of what a bird is.
And maybe you have different ideas about birds, or what dishes and plates are.
Write and tell us in the comments if you do.
And if you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend.
And Aurum, thank you for a great question. See you all next week everyone. Bye-bye.
Bye.

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Vocabulary for talking about love – Happy Valentine’s Day!

Vocabulary for talking about love – Happy Valentine’s Day!

Is it possible to fall in love in just one conversation? In this video we ask and answer 11 English questions that can lead to love and explore the vocabulary of love and relationships along the way.
In this lesson you’ll learn vocabulary for talking about love and relationships including:
– words for describing relationships:
compatible, close, treasured
– things lovers might do as they get closer such as:
to impress, to be compatible, to get along, to be trying to hard, to share, to reveal
– euphemisms for death and distress:
to lose someone, disturbing
– adjectives for describing physical appearance:
good-looking, beautiful, pretty, handsome, hot, fit
– adjectives for describing personal qualities:
loyal, sensitive
This lesson was inspired by some real psychological research into questions that can make strangers connect, get close fast and even fall in love.
Here’s a link to the Arthur Aron et al study and a great article about it from the New York Times
If you want to try out the 36 questions with a partner, here’s a website that makes it easy to go through the questions.

Click here to see some more vocabulary videos.

Vocabulary for talking about love

Are you ready to fall in love?
It can happen really fast, in just one conversation.
We’ll show you how it can happen to you.
And you’ll learn lots of vocabulary about love and relationships along the way.
Get ready for Valentine’s Day!
Hello everyone. I’m Jay and I’m American.
And I’m Vicki and I’m British and this lesson was inspired by the science of love.
Some years ago a psychologist called Arthur Aron did a study on relationship building. He was looking at communication and how strangers can connect.
And a very interesting thing happened in one of his experiments. Two strangers met in his laboratory, had a conversation and fell in love.
It happened when they asked one another 36 questions and shared their answers.
So what were the questions? We’ll show you. And we’ll leave some links about the research in the details below.
Be sure to read the article from the New York Times. It’s really interesting
Do you think the questions will help our relationship too? We’re already married.
Let’s try them and see!
OK, what are we doing?

I’ve got 36 questions here. And we’re going to take it in turns to pick them up, read them and then answer them. OK? First one. If you could choose anyone in the world, who would you want as a dinner guest?
Oh that’s easy. Albert Einstein.
Oh right. OK. I don’t think I’d want anyone famous. I think I’d want to see one of my old friends who I haven’t seen for a while.

Impressing and trying too hard

How do you think that first question went?
Very well. How about you?
Hmm. So-so. You said you wanted to meet Albert Einstein.
What’s wrong with that?
Well I think you’re trying to impress me. You want me to think you’re very intelligent.
Well I do want to impress you, but I’d also like to meet Albert Einstein.
Yeah but if I didn’t know you, I’d think you were trying too hard.
Trying too hard. That’s not good!
Be cool! Calm down and just be yourself.
OK. I’ll try to be cool.
Let’s try another question.

What would be a perfect day for you?
Ah, it would be: stay in bed till late and then go out in the evening for a meal with you.
My perfect day, what I’d like to do, I’d like to get up early in the morning, go to the gym and work out, go to work, get important things done, come home and go out to dinner with you.
You’re much more active than me.

Compatibility

How did that question go?
I’m not sure. You said I was more active than you.
But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. We’re just different. People can be compatible even if they’re different.
That’s true. We don’t have to agree about everything to get along.
And I like your energy.
Well thank you! Let’s have another question then.

If you were going to become a close friend with your partner,… Well that sounds really odd. If you’re not already close friends, why would you be partners, but..
Oh no because, no because, these are for strangers to do as well, these questions.
You mean to a business partner?
No no, just strangers. Two people sitting together.
If… If you were… If you were going to become… Oh. Oh two people sitting together like partners in class.
Yes.
I see.
Yeah.
If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
It would be important for me to tell you that I’m very untidy.
I’d have to tell you that sometimes I snore.

To be untidy means I don’t put things away neatly.
And snoring is breathing noisily when you’re asleep.

Partner

‘Partner’ is interesting. It can be a confusing word in English.
Yes, it can mean a business partner – someone you own a business with.
Or it can be someone you do something with. Like if you work with a team mate in class, they’re you’re partner.
In British English, we describe someone we live with, but we’re not married to, as our partner.
So there’s a romantic relationship.
Yes. What would you call that in American English?
Perhaps your boyfriend or girlfriend?
But that could also be someone you don’t live with.
Yes, it could be either. But partners for us are generally two people in a gay relationship.
Before Jay and I got married we lived together in the US and I didn’t know about this vocabulary difference. So I talked about Jay to my American friends and said he was my partner. And then when my they met him they were surprised.
They expected me to be a woman. They were very nice to me, but clearly surprised.
So that’s a curious American and British English difference.
I think things are changing though and we’re adopting the British meaning of the word.
So the difference is disappearing?
Yes. Let’s have another question.

What is your most treasured memory?
Erm… Our wedding day was pretty special and I have tresured memories of that.
Erm… What is your most terrible memory?
Oh well I think… there are several of them but it’s losing people we love.
Yeah.
My father or my mother or Carter.
Yeah. Yeah. Me too.

A euphemism

Treasure is something valuable like gold silver or jewels, and if we treasure something we treat it like it’s very valuable.
We could treasure a friendship, or treasure a memory.
And lose?
If we lose someone we love, it means they died.
It’s a euphemism, a gentle way to say they died.
As we worked our way through the questions, they also became more personal.
We had to reveal things about our personal feelings and say how we felt about one another.

Take turns to share a positive characteristic of your partner. Share five items. Erm. I think you’re very hard working. I think you’re funny. I think you’re, erm, very loyal. I think you’re… I think you’re also very kind, and try not to hurt people’s feelings. You’re sensitive like that. And I think… Erm…
Good-looking.
All right. Good-looking!

Personal attributes

Good-looking is another way to say attractive.
And we can say it for men and women. Some adjectives are used for females, like beautiful and pretty.
And handsome is for men. We can also say hot. That works for women and men.
We could say that in British English too, but often we say fit.
Like physically fit – strong and healthy?
No, fit is an informal word and it means hot. Sexy.
OK, loyal. If someone is loyal, they always support their friends.
You can be sure that they’ll be on your side.
Sensitive is an interesting word too because it’s a false friend in many languages.
Notice that sensitive doesn’t mean that you’re able to make good judgements. That’s sensible – so a different word.
If someone is sensitive it could mean they get upset easily, but it can also mean that they’re able to understand other people’s feelings and problems.
And then it’s a positive quality.
Have we made another video about sensible and sensitive?
Yes, I’ll put the link here.

Complete this sentence. I wish I had someone with whom I could share …
The work for Simple English Videos. So perhaps the editing or the shooting and all that. I mean there’s you. There’s you. I know that.
Thanks a lot!
I know but I wish we had someone else.
Oh someone else.
OK. What about you?
Yes, I wish we had someone else.

You said ‘with whom’ there, not ‘with who’. That was very formal.
Yes, that was because I was reading the research question aloud.
We’ve made another video on who and whom and I’ll put the link here.
But there was another useful verb there – share.
Sharing is when you’re giving something you have to another person.
We can share information and personal stories.

How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
Well together we have a very large close family. I’d like to be closer to some of them, but they’re very far away.
Erm, and do you think your childhood was happier than most other people’s. I think mine was. I was very lucky.
I suspect mine was not, but that’s OK.
That’s the problem isn’t it. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother. She was a difficult woman, wasn’t she?
Let’s skip that.

Close can mean physically close, so not far away, and also emotionally close.
Close has a lot of different meanings.
If you’re talking about love, you want a close relationship.
A close relationship is a loving relationship.
Exactly.
To skip is a useful verb. If we don’t want to do something, we can say, ‘let’s skip it’.
It’s like missing it. We can skip breakfast or lunch.
There was another question we wanted to skip.

Of all the people in your family – oh – this is disturbing.
OK. Of all the people in your family whose death would you find most disturbing and why? Whoo! Erm. Clearly for me, it would be you.
Right. It’s too disturbing to even think about.
Yeah and I think one of the grandchildren. Well, let’s not think about it.

It’s interesting that they wrote the word disturbing in this question.
If we disturb someone, it usually means we interrupt them and stop them from doing what they’re doing.
Usually if you disturb someone it isn’t serious. It’s a small problem. It’s not a big thing.
In this question disturbing is a euphemism again. It’s a gentle way of saying upsetting or distressing.
If you’re upset, you’re very unhappy and possibly worried. Something bad has happened.
And if you’re distressed something really bad has happened and your very upset.
It was a difficult question, because they wanted us to share sad thoughts.
I expect that’s important for the experiment.
Yes, the questions at the start of the experiment are easy, but then they get deeper.

Uh oh! Share an embarrassing moment in your life. Where do I begin? There are so many. I’ve given a presentation to a large audience and I’ve sneezed and farted at the same time.
Sorry, I’ve never been embarrassed.

Embarrassment

Stories like that can make us feel nervous, uncomfortable and ashamed.
Thy make us vulnerable.
Yes. We’ll think ‘are you going to laugh at me?’, ‘will you think I’m stupid?’
Maybe we have to become vulnerable to fall in love. What do you think?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments. And share what you think of the experiment and the questions.
And we love it when you share our videos with your friends too.
Yes, please go and do that now!
Yeah, this video is getting very long. It’s time to stop.
We haven’t finished all the questions though.
We can look at some more another time.
OK, see you next week everyone.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Bye-bye.
Bye.
Click here to see some more vocabulary videos.

sickness and illness vocabulary

Sickness and Illness Vocabulary in British and American English

Watch this English lesson to learn vocabulary for health and sickness.
We’ll also show you how some words we use to talk about illness are different in British and American English.

You’ll learn vocabulary for:
– cold and flu symptoms like fever, sore throat and blocked or runny nose
– germs and bugs
– symptoms like feeling nauseous, having diarrhea and having constipation
– different kinds of aches in English
– different ways to say vomit in English
– the different meanings of sick and ill in British and American English
And on top of all this great stuff, you’ll also see a funny parody ad for cold medication. Enjoy!

Click here to see more vocabulary videos

 

Funny parody ad

Do you have a fever, stuffiness, sore throat?
It’s cold season again. Have you protected yourself against this year’s germs?
Atchoo!
Are you ready to fight against coughs and sneezes?
Atchoo!
Nothing protects you from a cold like a big steel pan.
And when you’re all done your steel pan rinses clean.
Call or go online to get your big steel pan today.

Hi everyone I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American and today we have a vocabulary lesson.
We’re going to show you lots words and expressions we use to talk about common illnesses and sickness in English.
And there are some words that we say differently in British and American English.
We’ll tell you about them too. Where shall we begin?
Oh. Let’s start with the commercial.

Do you have a fever, stuffiness, sore throat?

I don’t want to get into another elevator with someone like you there.
Yeah, I had a bad cold, or the flu.
With a cold you feel ill for a few days. But the flu is more serious. You might need to spend a week in bed.
Flu is short for influenza. In British English we can say ‘He has the flu’ or ‘He has flu’. Both are correct and common. But notice we always say ‘a’ with ‘a cold’. He has a cold.
American English is a little different because we say ‘the’ with flu. ‘He has the flu’. But colds are the same. We use ‘a’. And we can use ‘a’ with other symptoms. He has a sore throat. He has a fever.
Your throat is a passage inside your neck. And if it’s sore it’s painful.
It can hurt to swallow if you have a sore throat.
A fever is an interesting word because we can use it in British English but I’d normally say ‘He has a temperature’.
And a temperature means a high temperature.
Yeah. When I first came to the US, the doctors would ask, ‘Do you have a fever?’ and I didn’t know what to say because I associate a fever with a very, very high temperature, like if you have malaria or something really serious.
A fever just means a body temperature of say 101° Fahrenheit or more.
He means 38°Celcius. So high, but not life threatening.
Another cold symptom is stuffiness – a stuffy nose.
It’s when your nose is blocked and you can’t breathe easily.
Congestion is the formal word, but normally we say ‘I’m stuffed up’.
And in British English we can also say ‘I’m bunged up’. It’s means my nose is blocked.
And what’s the opposite?
It’s having a runny nose.
Oh it’s the same in American English.
If it’s runny, mucus is coming out.
Mucus is the formal word. The informal word is snot.
Yeah. Snot is not a polite word
It’s not?!
But we say it.
Let’s see some more of the commercial.

It’s cold season again. Have you protected yourself against this year’s germs?

You were dangerous with all those coughs and sneezes.
Yeah, I was spreading germs there.
Germs are very small living things that can make you ill – like bacteria or viruses.
We should cover our mouth when we cough .

Jay, what are you doing wearing a face mask?
There are a lot of bugs going around. I don’t want to get sick.
And gloves too.
Yes, I don’t want to pick up any germs. Would you like some?
No thanks.

You were being very careful there.
Well, there were a lot of bugs going around.
A bug is an illness that people can catch very easily from one other.
And ‘going around’ means spreading from one person to another.
Bugs aren’t nice, but they’re not usually serious. We could say ‘I have a flu bug’, or ‘I have a stomach bug’.
If you have a stomach bug, you might feel nauseous.
You mean nauseous.
No. Nauseous.
Nauseous. OK. There’s a pronunciation difference here.
If you feel nauseous, you feel like you’re going to throw up.
To throw up is when your food comes back up. BLAH.
A more formal term is to vomit, but in everyday conversation we usually say something like throw up.
We have lots of other ways to say it.

To vomit.
To throw up.
To puke.
To barf.
To be sick.
To hurl.
To do the technicolour yawn.
To lose your lunch.

Sick and ill in British and American English

I want to test the British expression there. If I say ‘I was sick’, what does it mean to you?
Oh. It means you weren’t well. Perhaps you had a fever or a cold or something.
OK, in British English it could mean that but often it means I threw up.
That’s interesting. If I feel nauseous, I could say I’m going to be sick.
So like British English.
Well no, because I’d only say it just before it happens. Like ‘Pull the car over, I’m going to be sick’.
And then after you’re sick?
I’d say I threw up. I wouldn’t say I was sick.
And what do you call the stuff that comes out of your mouth?
Vomit.
I’d usually call it sick.
In American English we use sick to talk about feeling generally unwell, so not just nauseous.
We can do that too, but we use the word ill a little more than you. So often I’ll say someone is ill when Jay will say they’re sick. We mean the same thing.
For me, ill is a little more formal than sick. And if someone is ill, it’s probably more long term and serious.
OK, another symptom of a stomach bug is diarrhoea.
Are we going to talk about that?
Yeah, it’s a useful word to know. Diarrhoea is when you go to the toilet and …
You mean the bathroom
And your poo is watery.
We have a few other ways to describe that too.

I have diarrhea.
I have the runs.
I have the trots.
I have an upset stomach.
My stomach is acting up.

OK. What’s the opposite of diarrhoea? It’s constipation. Constipation is when you can’t do a poo or it’s very hard.
Enough! Can we go back to the commercial now.
OK.
Are you ready to fight against coughs and sneezes?
Nothing protects you from a cold like a big steel pan.
How’s your head?
Terrible! I’ve got a headache now.
Headache. An ache is similar to a pain.
Parts of our body can ache.
So ache can be a noun and a verb in English. We have five main aches and Jay will now demonstrate them for you.
Really?
Yes.

Aches in English

I have a headache. I have backache. I have earache. I have stomach ache. I have toothache.

Good job.
Thanks.
Notice that we have to say ‘a’ when we’re talking about a headache. With earache, toothache and stomachache and backache it’s optional.
And there’s also another word you’ll hear for stomach ache: tummy ache. Tummy is another word for stomach and we often use it when we talk to children.
We might also say I have indigestion. Indigestion can give us stomach ache or tummy ache.
Great. Are we finished?
Nearly. But there’s one more thing that’s useful to know.
What’s that?
If someone sneezes, what do we say?
Oh yes!
It’s polite to say ‘bless you’.
It’s not a religious expression. It’s just something we say to acknowledge that someone sneezed. Atchoo!
Bless you!
Thanks.

Knock knock.
Who’s there.
Atch.
Atch who?
Bless you!
Argh!

And that’s it! Now you know how to describe lots of common illnesses in English.
If you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend.
And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel.
Stay healthy everyone! See you all next week. Bye-bye.
Bye.

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british words british phrases

10 British words and phrases that Americans don’t use

Here are 10 British words and phrases that I rarely hear in the US, or if I do, they have rather different meanings. For example, my British ground floor is an American first floor, and my first floor becomes a second floor. Cheers is another one. It can also mean thank you and goodbye in the UK. And then there are words like shirty, plonker and taking the mickey.
See 10 British words and phrases in action in a comedy sketch and get explanations here.

Click here to learn more British and American differences
Click here to see how to say cheers in some other languages

British words and phrases

Well, it’s a lovely conference hotel, isn’t it?
Yes, isn’t it great?
I hope Jay hasn’t overslept again. We never hear the alarms on our phones.
No, he’s up. I saw him at breakfast.
Oh good.
Ah Jay. You’re late.
Sorry. I thought this meeting was on the first floor.
Yeah?
Well, this is the second floor.
No, it isn’t.
Never mind. Have you got the artwork, Jay, for our presentation?
Yes, it was quite a challenge. I couldn’t find all the images you wanted so I had to take the photos myself.
Oh cheers, Jay.
Yeah, cheers.
Ah. Cheers. Cheers.
Show us the pictures.
Sure. Here’s the first one.
I don’t understand.
Yeah. Which picture is this?
Hmmm. Man delivering the post.
This isn’t what we had in mind.
Where are the letters?
You didn’t say anything about letters.
But we wanted a postman.
Let’s move on. Jay, show us the next one.
OK. Well this photo was very hard to take.
I don’t get it.
Me neither.
Well, you said you wanted a suitcase in a boot. Now I couldn’t find a boot big enough for a whole suitcase but I did my best.
Are you taking the mickey?
The mi… What do you mean?
We need to see a suitcase in the back of a car.
Well then why didn’t you say so?
I thought we did.
You did not.
Don’t get shirty.
Sh… What?
What’s the next one?
OK. I put a lot of effort into this one and it’s exactly what you asked for.
It’s a school boy holding a rubber. What’s wrong now?
It’s pants, Jay.
No it’s not. Its a condom.
Vicki, you’re going to have to make all these images again.
Yeah. You’re such a plonker Jay. What time is our presentation tomorrow?
8.30 in the morning. Do you want me to stop by your room and knock you up?
Oh, that would be great. Thanks Craig. What?
Hello everyone, I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
And last week we showed you that story and asked you to spot the British expressions.
There were ten of them and you did really well!
Well done!
We were very impressed, and this week we’re going to explain them.
Yeah, let’s get cracking
That means let’s start and we say that in American English too.
But you don’t say ground floor when you’re talking about buildings.
We can but the ground floor of a building is the first floor. And in the UK?
It varies but usually we have a ground floor and then the NEXT floor is the first floor.
So it’s the second floor. In the US we’re logical. We start at floor one and go up.
Well we have a different logic. We start at zero. OK, what’s next?
Cheers. We say cheers when we’re making toast in American English. So when we’re lifting our glasses to drink.
We do too but cheers has some other meanings as well. It’s an informal way to say good bye.
Oh, like cheerio?
Yeah, ‘Cheers, bye!’ And it’s also an informal way to say thank you.
OK, next one. Post. That’s a piece of wood or metal that’s set in the ground.
That’s the same in British English but the post is also the mail – so letters and parcels. And a postman or postwoman is someone who delivers the post.
We’d call them a mail carrier. A mailman if it’s a man.
OK. Next?
A boot. This is a big strong shoe.
Same in the UK, but it also means the space in the back of a car where you put your bags and cases.
We call that the trunk. Taking the mickey.
Yes. This is an informal expression and it’s when you make someone look silly.
Is it unkind to take the mickey?
Not really. It means teasing and making fun of someone, but usually in a gentle way.
OK. Shirty. What does that mean?
That means cross or a little angry.
So when you’re shirty, you’re bad tempered.
Exactly. Shirty is when you’re rude because you’re annoyed.
OK, the next one. Rubber. This is an informal way of saying condom on the US – so a rubber is a contraceptive.
We just call them condoms in the UK. And we use rubbers to remove pencil marks from paper.
That’s an eraser.
Yeah, we could say eraser but it’s a bit formal. We normally say rubber.
Plonker. This is an insult right?
Yes. It’s slang. If someone is stupid we might say they’re a plonker.
It means they’re an idiot?
Yeah, or we might say they’re a wally – that’s another informal word. If someone does something stupid we might say ‘Oh, you wally’. It means stupid too.
Pants.
Ah yes.
Now pants are a piece of clothing that cover our legs in American English but I know that’s different in British English.
Yeah, we call them trousers. And for us, pants are what you wear under your trousers next to your skin.
We call that underwear.
But pants can also be an adjective in British English. It’s informal and we use it to say something was rubbish. So ‘How was the film?’ ‘Oh it was pants.’
Oh so pants means very bad.
Yeah.
And now the last one. Knock someone up
This is informal again and it has a couple of meanings in British English.
In American English it’s slang and it means to make a girl pregnant.
We have that meaning too. But very often it means to wake someone up by knocking on their door.
That’s not what I think of when I hear it.
He must have a dirty mind. So are we done?
Yes. That was fun.
We want to say a big thank you to Craig for appearing in the comedy sketch with us.
We’ll put links to his websites below. They’re great for Spanish speakers who are learning English.
And if you enjoyed this video please share it with a friend.
And subscribe to our channel.
See you all next week everyone. Bye.
Bye-bye.
Click here to learn more British and American differences
Click here to see how to say cheers in some other languages