AE 368 – Expression:
A Silver Bullet
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About the AuthorI learn languages, teach Australian English, and love all things science and nature!
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By pete — 9 months ago
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AE 409 – Expression: To Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
The dingo in the tent. That dingo took the baby. God. No! Please, God help! That dingo took my baby!
G’day, guys. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone who wants to learn Australian English, if you’re interested in Australian slang, Australian vocab, the Australian accent, this is the podcast for you, guys. All things Australian lingo.
So, today, the opening scene today was from a movie called Evil Angels, and that was in 1988 starring Sam Neil and Meryl Streep. You might know Meryl Streep, and you probably would know Sam Neil if you’ve seen Jurassic Park. He’s the main guy in Jurassic Park.
Anyway, that line “The dingo took my baby” or it’s often misquoted as “The dingo ate my baby” is a line that you’ll hear in Australian pop-culture from time to time, and it’s referring to this story but this movie is about that occurred in 1980 when baby Azaria went missing near Uluru.
And this line got pretty famous when TV shows like Seinfeld and Fraser used it in some of their episodes.
Tell my fiancé I’m looking for him. I have lost my fiancé the poor baby. Maybe the dingo ate your baby? – Seinfeld
That dingo’s got your baby. – Fraser
The dingo ate my baby. A dingo at my baby. – Conan O’Brien
I’m sorry a dingo at your baby. You know that’s a true story? Lady lost a kid. You about to cross some f*cking line! – Tropic Thunder
So, we’ll talk about exactly what happened there and we’ll chat about dingoes, who could’ve been the main culprit in that story, at the end of today’s episode. So, stay tuned and wait for that.
Anyway, announcements wise. So, the coming week, I’m getting ready to move to Canberra. So, that’s going to be a big change. I’m looking forward to that, guys. I’m moving to Canberra. So, if any of you guys live in Canberra, feel free to send me a message or an e-mail and we might be able to catch up. Who knows. But that’s in the works at the moment. That’s what’s going to happen.
Aside from that, I’ve obviously been working away, recording interviews, working on the Aussie English Classroom, and also practicing a bit of French and a bit of Portuguese as well. So, I’ve been doing weekly lessons with one of my old students, Laleh. She’s been working hard with me to help me improve my French, and I’ve been trading her for some time learning English. So, that’s been good fun the last few weeks. So, a big thanks Laleh for helping me improve my French. Merci beaucoup mon amie!
Anyway, guys. Let’s get into today’s joke. So, today’s joke, seeing as we’re talking about dingoes today, is a joke about dogs. Okay? So, here we go. Here’s the joke. What do you call a frozen dog? What do you call a frozen dog? Can you guys think of anything funny, think of anything funny? So, we call a frozen dog “a pupsicle”. Do you get it? “A pupsicle”.
So, that’s a pun, it’s a play on words with the word “pup” or “puppy”. So, “pup” is short for “puppy”, and it means a baby dog. Usually a baby kind of mammal. You can have seal pups, but it means baby dog usually. A pup or a puppy. It’s a play on words with that and the word “popsicle”, which is a word that means an ice cream or flavoured water that’s frozen to a wooden stick. So, “a popsicle”. And the joke here was that: What do you call a frozen dog? “A pupsickle”, instead of a popsicle.
All right, guys. So, today’s expression is ‘to let sleeping dogs lie’, and that is a proverb. This is actually a pretty old expression or proverb, which we’ll get to in a bit. But let’s go through “to let sleeping dogs lie”, and define the words in this phrase.
So, “to let”. “To let” in this case means to allow or to permit. If you let someone do something, you allow them to do something, you permit them to do something. So, my parents might let me sleep in on the weekend. They allow me to sleep in. They permit me to sleep in. They let me.
The next word is “sleeping”. So, this is the gerund form of “to sleep”, and it’s the act of obviously being asleep. It is what you do when you are not awake. You are sleeping. Sleeping.
“A dog”. A dog is “a man’s best friend”, guys. You will all know what a dog is. Woof woof. A dog is a carnivorous species of the mammal family Canidae. So, these guys have canine teeth, and that’s why they’re in the family Canidae, Canidae. Canine teeth.
The last word here is “lie”. “Lie”. So, in this case, it doesn’t mean a fib, something that you say that isn’t true. In this case, it is to rest in a horizontal position like to lie down or to lay down. “Lie”. If I lie, I’m lying on the ground.
All right. So, the expression let’s go through the expression and what it means when you say to let sleeping dogs lie.
So, if you let sleeping dogs lie, it means that you are leaving things as they are. You’re not instigating trouble. You are avoiding interfering in a situation that is currently causing no problems, but it could cause a problem with interference. So, this is sort of complicated, but let me try and explain it in one more way. It’s to not restart or rekindle an old argument. So, it’s to leave disagreements in the past. So, if you have a problem with someone, you have an issue with someone, in the past, if you let sleeping dogs lie, it is that you don’t instigate trouble. You don’t bring these things up again. So, you don’t wake the dog up. You allow that dog to stay sleeping. You let sleeping dogs lie.
So, a synonym for let sleeping dogs lie is “leave well enough alone”. So, you may have heard that as well. It’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. It’s best to leave well enough alone.
So, I went through and looked at the expression origin. I was kind of curious. When this expression get coined? How long has it been used for? And I think this is one of those expressions that is probably the oldest that I’ve come across so far. So, “let sleeping dogs lie” derives from the long-standing observation that dogs are often unpredictable when suddenly disturbed. So, if you suddenly woke a dog up, you don’t know what it could do. It could bite you, could bark, could run off. And Geoffrey Chaucer was one of the first to put this into print. So, to write this down in a book. And he did so in a book called Troilus and Criseyde in 1380.
So, that was a very long time ago, you know, about… what… what’s that 700 years ago? Maybe not 700. 650 years ago, we’ll say. So, he put that down in a book about 650 years ago in 1380, and he said something along the lines of, “It is nought good a slepyng hound to wake“. So, effectively, “you shouldn’t wake a sleeping dog”.
So, the expression may have started as a warning about the risk of waking a potentially dangerous animal, but it later turned metaphorical, and it later became “to let sleeping dogs lie”.
So, let’s go through some examples, guys. As usual, this is where I will go through three different examples of situations of how I would use this expression, and this is a good chance for you to try different vocab that I’ll bring up, you know? You got to think about these situations I’m talking about. I use different verb tenses. So, that’s the whole purpose of me using these examples. So, let’s go through them.
Example number one. Alright. So, imagine that you arrive to work late. You arrive to work late and you’re worried that your boss is going to be angry for your tardiness, for showing up at work late. You ask a friend if you should mention something to your boss, you know, bring it up, say something about it and apologise, and your friend says, “It’s probably better not to bring it up. So, just let sleeping dogs lie. You should definitely just let sleeping dogs lie. Leave well enough alone and don’t bring it up. Don’t mention this thing that’s happened in the past. Let sleeping dogs lie.”.
Example number two. Alright. In this example, imagine that you have borrowed money from a friend. So, this friend has lent you some money, you’ve borrowed some money from your friend, and you wanted to buy something. Maybe you want to buy some smokes, some ciggies. You know? Something small like that some cigarettes. Or maybe you borrowed a lot of money and you want to go on a holiday down The Great Ocean Road. You know, maybe you’re going to take your ute down there for a bit of a cruise, a bit of a drive, and you borrowed a bunch of money from your friend. If you think about asking them if they want you to pay them back now, maybe this week, and you ask a friend, “Should I do that? Should I ask if they want the money back now.”. Your friend might say, “It’s better to just let sleeping dogs lie. Don’t bring it up just yet. Bring it up in the future. Let sleeping dogs lie.”.
Example number three is imagine that your father and his sister, so your auntie, have a bit of a tumultuous relationship. So, they fight quite a bit, they don’t get along, and they do this at parties, and imagine that one day you’re having lunch with your family and your auntie’s there, your father’s sister has come to this party, and she brings something up from their history, something like a disagreement, an argument, something someone did, in order to start a fight, in order to instigate some kind of argument. You might say to her, “Why couldn’t you just let sleeping dogs lie? Why couldn’t you just let sleeping dogs lie? Why couldn’t you leave well enough alone? You should have let sleeping dogs lie. You should have left well enough alone. You should have left these things unmentioned and in the past. You shouldn’t have started a fight.”.
So, I hope you understand the expression now, guys, “To let sleeping dogs lie”, which effectively means, don’t restart an old argument. Leave disagreements in the past.
So, as usual. Let’s go through a little listen and repeat exercise, guys, and then we’ll go through the Aussie fact. So, this is your chance to practice your pronunciation, guys. Listen and repeat after me exactly as I do if you want an Aussie accent. Let’s go.
Listen & Repeat:
To let sleeping
To let sleeping dogs
To let sleeping dogs lie
I should have let sleeping dogs lie
You should have let sleeping dogs lie
He should have let sleeping dogs lie
She should have let sleeping dogs lie
We should have let sleeping dogs lie
They should have let sleeping dogs lie
It should have let sleeping dogs lie
Awesome job, guys. Awesome job. So, just remember if you want to learn the connected speech from today’s exercise make sure that you’ve enrolled in the Aussie English Classroom, guys. The online English-learning classroom for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English faster. Remember, you can try that for just one dollar for your first 30 days. The link will be in the description or you can go to www.TheAussieEnglishClassroom.com. And we’re going to talk about why I said “sleepin'” instead of “sleeping”, “shoulda” instead of “should have”, as well as a few other little tips and tricks in there to get you sounding more like an Australian.
Anyway, guys. Let’s get into the Aussie fact for today, and then let’s finish up.
So, today I want to talk about dingoes, and the history of dingoes in Australia.
So, dingoes are a native Australian dog. The only native dog in Australia. And The species name is Canus lupus dingo. So, it’s actually a subspecies of dog. These are the same species as your pet dog, but they are a subspecies.
They’re a medium-sized canine, a medium-sized dog, and they’re about the same size as say a poodle or a bit smaller than a labrador, and they grow to about 13 to 24 kilograms and about 52 to 63 centimetres high when they’re standing.
They vary between sandy yellow and red ginger in colour, and they usually have white markings on their feet, on their tail tip, and on their chest.
They are found throughout the mainland of Australia, but they are absent from Tasmania. Dingoes are also found in all kinds of habitat. They’re found in alpine regions, woodlands, grasslands, deserts, and even tropical regions all across the mainland of Australia.
There are many different cross breeds of dingo now, because they’ve interbred with wild or pet dogs. And the only full-blooded population of dingoes that haven’t interbred with wild dogs or pet dogs are believed to live on Fraser Island in Queensland.
So, dingoes are active at dawn and dusk, so at sunrise and sunset, and this is the same time that their prey is active. And these guys prey mostly on wallabies and kangaroos. So, the hopping macropods, the marsupials that hop in Australia. But they’re also known to eat things like rabbits, possums, sugar gliders, rats, and mice. With regards to livestock, though, they don’t tend to attack farm animals. So, they leave things like sheep and cows alone. They do not tend to eat these things. I mean they probably would if they found a dead one, but these animals tend to be a bit too big.
These guys arrived in Australia only 4,000-5,000 years ago. Okay. So, that is about the time that The Pyramids were being built. That’s when these guys arrived in Australia. And to put that in context with when humans arrived here, humans arrived about 12 times that amount of time ago in the past. So, humans arrived between 50-60,000 years ago. Dingoes arrived between 4-5,000 years ago.
So, originally it was thought that they were introduced by Indonesian seafarers. Although, more recent research has suggested that the dingo arrived in Australia with a migration of Indian people, people from India, about 4,300 years ago, which would make sense.
Since dingoes arrived in Australia, they have been a big part of indigenous culture, and they have acted as companions, physical and spiritual protectors, hunters, and a source of warmth around the campfire.
So, dingoes in Australia are pretty infamous too because of what happened, and the reason that this film that we mentioned at the start Evil Angels was made, because of what happened in the ’80s in the Northern Territory. Okay. So, that famous line, “the dingo took my baby!”. What is that based on?
So, what happened? Okay, so the Chamberlains, a family, were hanging around, they were checking out Uluru in 1980, and they had their nine-week-old baby Azaria with them whilst they were camping around Uluru. They left their tent open and in the middle of the night, according to them, a dingo went into the tent, picked up their nine-week-old baby, and disappeared.
So, the baby’s clothes were found a few days later, I believe, and they were in blood, and despite them having reported that a dingo took the baby, people thought that that was a bit suss. They didn’t believe it, because at the time they’d never heard of these apparently harmless small dogs having hurt any kind of human young or old.
And so, a coroner found them innocent initially, and suggested that it was a dingo. However, city people found this hard to believe, and the media believed that, in fact, Lindy Chamberlain, the mother of Azaria, had actually killed the baby and wanted to get rid of it for some reason.
So, she didn’t exactly appear like the anguished mother we would imagine when she was in the media. And so, people decided she must have been guilty, and they didn’t believe that a dingo could have killed her baby.
So, she was taken to court, and there was blood that was found in the car, and that, despite that being the only evidence, there was no other evidence, there was no murder weapon, no motive, no body, they believed that she had cut the baby’s throat and killed the baby in the car. So, in 1982, Lindy Chamberlain was convicted and sent to jail. And Michael Chamberlain, I believe, was also convicted as an accessory (to murder).
She went to prison for three years. And then three years later at Uluru, the baby’s jacket was found, which showed evidence of the dingo having bitten it. And also, they found out that the apparent blood in the car had been a sound-deadening compound and also a potential fruit drink of sweetened milk. So, how crazy’s that? They thought it was blood originally, and it turns out that was definitely not the case.
So, these guys were pardoned and they were let out of jail. The public still thought though that she had done it and they didn’t change their minds. During this time, in 1988, Evil Angels the movie was made with Sam Neill and Meryl Streep, and the film played the angle of Lindy and her family being innocent, and that a dingo had actually gone into the tent picked up the baby and taken it away and killed it. And it also showed the media’s negative portrayal of the Chamberlain family. So, people, despite this movie coming out, still didn’t change their minds and still believed she was guilty.
There were a few royal commissions and other coroners who looked at this case, and they also ruled that it could have been her and it could have been a dingo, but they didn’t want to say that it was definitely a dingo. So, it was still left up in the air for a very long time.
However, more recently, since Azaria’s disappearance, there have been hundreds of reports of vicious dingo attacks, several of which have been fatal to children. Tragically on April the 30th in 2001, nine-year-old Clinton Gage was attacked and killed by two Dingo’s near Waddy point on Fraser Island. So, this isn’t a nine-week-old baby, this is a nine-year-old child being killed by two dingoes, two apparently harmless native dogs.
So, finally people started to realise these weren’t dog like animals, they were wolf like animals. They weren’t harmless creatures. They were opportunistic and able to kill humans, though very small and young humans, if they wanted to.
So, finally in 2012, a new coroner found that a dingo was the cause of death and finally put this case to rest.
So, there’s still some mystery around this, and I guess we will never really know what happened, whether that dingo had actually gotten the baby and run away, or whether this lady did it herself. But I would love to know what you guys think in the comments. So, make sure you let me know. Do you think she did it or do you think a dingo took her baby?
Anyway, guys. Thanks for listening and I hope you have a great week. Don’t forget to review this podcast if you’re listening on iTunes or any of those podcast apps. That always helps. Make sure you share it with your friends. Let anyone know who is coming to Australia or who’s currently in Australia and practicing their English. Let them know about the podcast. Send them a “G’day!” from me.
And don’t forget too to a sign up to The Aussie English Classroom if you guys want to learn Australian English even faster.
Anyway, it’s been a long episode. There’s been lots and lots of information in here, guys. I hope you enjoy it, and I’ll chat to you soon.
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By pete — 1 year ago
AE 295 – Expression: As Luck Would Have It
Welcome to The Aussie English Podcast.
The number one podcast for anyone wanting to speak English like an Australian or simply to understand the English spoken Down Under in Australia.
Today is obviously another expression episode, and we’ll get into that shortly.
But to chat to you about what I’m up to at the moment.
The last week, it hasn’t been too bad, it hasn’t been too busy.
I had to get a presentation ready for my PhD.
So, I’m about to present all of my work to the faculty at my university.
I had to give a practice talk of that presentation to my lab group at the museum, which was fun.
So, I had to sort of go to this meeting, the lab group meeting, the laboratory group that is everyone who studies with my supervisor and his wife.
We all meet once a week and chat about our projects, about science, about the most recent news with us personally or in our field of science.
And so, I got to go there and present all my work. Took about 30 to 40 minutes.
Took quite a while. That was the longest talk I think I’ve ever given.
And then, I got feedback from everyone, which was good.
So, how I could improve the talk. How I could make it better. What else I could include.
What else I could potentially remove that was not relevant or at least less relevant than other things in the talk.
So just how to polish it up, how to make it nicer, how to make it run more smoothly.
So that’s been my week. I did that. I’ve been working.
I’ve been giving some private lessons to my students of Aussie English as well teaching them English via Skype and in person.
That’s always good fun, because I end up learning quite a lot, quite a lot.
You guys have some amazing questions when I’m teaching you guys whether it’s via live lessons on Facebook or when I have some of my students in classes the questions that you guys come up with never cease to amaze me, because quite often it is funny how native speakers speak the language, you know, at a really high level, but may not necessarily, in fact almost certainly don’t, understand the rules behind the language, understand the rules why we use certain things, we say certain things.
So, it’s always really interesting when you guys ask me those sorts of questions, and to have to look them up, to find out why it is that we use this versus this, and then to explain it.
So, I appreciate all the questions guys. Keep them coming.
Aside from that, I guess, I want to mention that I am doing live classes on Facebook at the moment.
I haven’t come up with a specific time or day yet.
So far, I’m thinking maybe a Thursday night, a Thursday night at about 7:00 p.m. Eastern Australian Time.
So that’s 7:00 pm in Melbourne. It seems like that is one of the best times for you guys.
So, send me a comment on Facebook or wherever you listen to this episode, and let me know what you think.
Is that a good time for you guys on Thursday nights at 7:00 p.m. to be doing these live lessons?
‘Cause I want to try and get it in a regular sort of schedule so that you guys can show up and know that it’s going to be on and obviously attend the class.
Anyway, let me know what you think about that. And we should just dive into the lesson.
So today we’re going to do the expression “as luck would have it”.
As luck would have it we’re going to do the expression “as luck would have it”.
And you’ll understand how I just used it at the end of the lesson.
So this one comes from Nilofer. Nilofer asked me via YouTube if I could do this expression.
So thank you so much Nilofer for suggesting this one.
And as luck would have it I’m going to do it today.
So, as usual, let’s dive in and to define the words in “as luck would have it”, “as luck would have it”.
So, “as”. This is a relatively simple small word, obviously, that gets used quite a bit.
In this sense, “as luck would have it”, you would use it like “the way that luck would have it”.
In this way. “As”, in this way.
“Luck”, “luck” is fortune, fate, destiny.
So, if you are a lucky person it means that you are fortunate.
Fate is shining upon you. You’re receiving good things. You have a positive destiny.
Everything is going well. If you’re unlucky then you are unfortunate.
Destiny and fate aren’t looking very well at you. You’re receiving a lot of bad things in life.
“To have something”. Obviously, you guys know what the verb “to have” is.
But in the sense of “as luck would have it” when you used “to have something” in this sense, so like “as I would have it” it is to allow to be, to unfold, as something would unfold, as something would happen, as something would come to pass or cause to be done.
So, for example, dad had us go outside and clean the windows.
That is that dad got us, he allowed us, he made us, he caused us to go outside and clean the windows.
Or for example, I’m going to have my friends come to my house.
That means I’m going to get my friends to come to my house. It is how I want things to unfold.
It is what I want to happen. I want them to come over. I’m going to have them come to my house.
So, to define the expression, “as luck would have it”, “as luck would have it”. It means as it turned out.
So, by good or bad fortune whether it’s something that is good, so lucky, or bad, unlucky, it is by chance.
So that is luck in that sense. When we use luck like that it could be good. It could be bad.
Bad luck, good luck. It’s just as something turned out, whether it was good or bad.
So, some examples of how you would use this expression in day to day English.
Imagine that you are trying to catch a bus, but you are running late.
You’re not sure if you’re going to make it to the bus on time in order to catch the bus.
You’re running to the stop. You’re freaking out.
You’re incredibly worried you’re going to miss it, and then have to wait like another hour to get the next one.
But you could say, if you get there on time and you catch the bus, you could say, “As luck would have it we arrived just in time. As luck would have it when we arrived the bus arrived. I got on the bus and I caught it.”
But you could also say that, “As luck would have it we missed the bus.”
So, it’s kind of like as luck decided, as luck happened, as things unfolded we missed it.
So, it can be positive or negative.
Example number two, imagine that you buy 100 lottery tickets.
So, tickets where you’re trying to win money. Lottery tickets.
And you end up only winning a dollar.
So, you buy 100 lottery tickets, maybe they’re ten dollars each.
So, it costs you a thousand dollars, but as luck would have it you end up winning only $1.
Bugger! That’s not good. That’s not good at all. So that’s the second example.
As luck would have it you only got $1 from those hundred lottery tickets.
Example number three. Imagine that someone has a heart attack on a plane.
So, you guys are on a plane. You’re in the air.
You’re flying from one place to another place, and someone has a heart attack on the plane, and the stewardess, the air hostess, asks “Is there a doctor on board? Is there a doctor on the flight who can help this person who has had a heart attack?”.
And as luck would have it there is a doctor on the plane.
And as luck would have it the doctor is sitting right next to the person who had the heart attack.
As luck would have it.
But then if the person dies you could say, “Well, as luck would have it the person passed away despite sitting next to a doctor.”
So, hopefully by now guys you get what the expression, “As luck would have it” means.
I hope that helps, Nilofer. Thanks again for the suggestion.
And if you guys have any other suggestions for expressions that you would like me to cover in one of these expression episodes don’t forget to send me a message.
So as usual we’ll dive in and do a little listen and repeat exercise guys.
So just listen and repeat after me and practice your pronunciation.
Listen & repeat:
Would have it.
Would have it.
Would have it.
As luck would have it.
As luck would have it.
As luck would have it.
As luck would have it.
As luck would have it.
And we’ll do it three times quickly.
As luck would have it.
As luck would have it.
As luck would have it.
So, let’s go through the pronunciation and connected speech aspect of this expression, guys.
In this one I want you to notice that the word “have” and the word “it” get joined, and it’s linked by the V at the end of “have”.
So, you hear “have_it”, “have_it”.
And a second thing to notice is the fact that the vowel sound in the word it turns into a schwa, and sounds more like “ə”.
So, it sounds like “eht”, “have_ət”, “have_ət”.
So, we’ll go through and pronounce this expression again.
And I want you to pay attention to the fact that “have” is linked to the word “it”, “have_it”, “have_it”.
But when I speak more naturally I also modify the vowel in “it” to sound more like “ə”.
So, it sounds like “ət”, ” ət”, (it) gets shortened. So, I’ll say this expression five more times, guys.
Pay attention to those two things.
Listen & repeat:
As luck would have_ət.
As luck would have_ət.
As luck would have_ət.
As luck would have_ət.
As luck would have_ət.
Good job, guys. Good job.
Before we finish up I do want to mention that I have the Aussie English Supporter Pack available for you guys who want to take your English to the next level.
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Thank you to everyone who has already signed up as a patron. It really means a lot to me.
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Anyway, guys, that’s enough for this episode. I hope you’re having an absolutely amazing week.
I hope your English is going well.
As usual, if you guys need anything feel free to message me or comment on the Facebook page or on YouTube.
And I’ll chat to you all soon.
All the best guys.
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By pete — 2 years ago
AE 262 – What’s the difference between COULD, CAN, WOULD, WILL, SHALL and SHOULD?
“Hi Pete. This is Aly. I’m one of your English Podcast listener(s*). Could you please show me what are the difference(s*) and use(s*) of these verbs: could, would, can, shall, should etc. Thanks for your efforts mate.”
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So your question today, Aly, was if I could tell you the difference between the different modal verbs can, could would, should and shall.
This is a pretty complicated question and would require a lot of time for me to go over all of these, but I’m going to try and sort of give you the down low, give you a brief introduction to when and where to use these different modal verbs.
Can & Could
So “can” and “could” are the same as “to be able to”.
And “can”, “could” and “to be able to” are used to express a variety of different ideas in English.
I might just go through them quickly.
They can express the idea of ability or lack of ability to do something.
So the ability or the inability.
For instance, “Tom can write poetry”, “I can help you”, “Lisa can’t speak French”.
That’s all about whether or not you can do something, whether or not you’re able to do something.
And so you can also substitute in “to be able to” instead of “can” in this instance where we’re talking about ability.
So you could say “Tom is able to write poetry”, “I am able to help you”, “Lisa is unable to speak French” or you could say “Lisa is not able to speak French”.
And when we do this in the past tense we use “could”.
So you could say “Tom could write poetry”, “I could help you, yesterday”, “Lisa could speak French when she was young”.
And if you want to substitute in “to be able to” then you have to obviously… with “to be” you have to use “was” or “have been”.
So you would say instead, “Tom was able to write poetry”, “I was able to help you”, “Lisa was able to speak French” or you could say “Tom has been able to…”.
“I have been able to…”. “Lisa has been able to…” etc., depending on the tense you are using.
So there you go.
That’s the first one.
Ability or inability to do something.
We can also use “can” and “could” for possibility or impossibility.
So “You can catch a train at 10:43”.
It’s possible you could do it.
“He can’t see you right now”.
It’s impossible that he sees you.
And again if we do this in the past tense, “You could catch a train at 10:43 yesterday.” or “He couldn’t see you yesterday”.
So that’s possibility and impossibility.
We can also use it for asking permission or giving permission.
So for instance, “Can you lend me ten dollars?”, “You can borrow my car.”, “Could I have your number?”, “Could I talk to you?”.
However, in this form “could” isn’t the past tense.
It’s the conditional tense, I believe.
So it would be like saying “Would I be able to have your number?”, “Could I have your number?”, “Would I be able to talk to you?”, “Could I talk to you?”.
We can also use it when making suggestions.
So we can use “could” to make a suggestion.
“You could take the tour of the castle”, “You could go there tomorrow”, “You could do this”.
And again that’s the conditional.
“You would be able to take the tour tomorrow”, “You would be able to go there”.
However, “could” sounds a lot more natural.
Shall & Should
So “shall” and “should”.
“Shall” and “should”.
And this also goes with “ought to”, but that’s not really used that much at least compared to the other two.
So we can use “shall” or “should” to offer assistance or as a polite suggestion.
And I might add here first “shall” is only used in the first person.
So it can be singular plural. “Shall I…”. “Shall we…”.
But it’s only used with “I” and “we”.
“Shall I…?”, “Shall we…?”, “I shall…”, “We shall…”.
So we can use them to offer assistance or as a polite suggestion.
So, “Shall we go for a walk?”, “Shall I go to the shops and buy some milk?”, “Should I go for a walk?”, “Should I go to the shops and buy some milk?”.
So we can also use “should” as a prediction or an expectation that something is going to happen.
“The proposal should be finished on time”, “I shouldn’t be late, the train usually arrives on time”.
And we can also use it to give advice.
“You should check that document before you send it out”.
And we can also use this when giving advice about something that we think is wrong or unacceptable.
So, “He shouldn’t teach words like that to children.” or “He shouldn’t do that. It’s dangerous”.
Those are examples of something that you would be better not doing, that you shouldn’t do, because it’s unacceptable or it’s wrong.
Will & Would
So the last one that you wanted to go over was “would” and “would” sort of pairs well with “will” when it comes to modal verbs.
“Will” and “would”.
So I might go over both of these.
So “will” and “would” be used for polite requests or statements.
“Will you please take the trash outside?”, “Would you mind if I sat next to you?”, “I would like to sign up for the workshop”.
So polite requests and statements.
You can also use it for habitual past actions.
So we can use “would” to talk about things that we did habitually in the past so something that happened many times that we used to do all the time say as a kid.
For instance, “When I was a child I would spend hours playing video games” or you could say, “Peter wouldn’t eat broccoli as a kid”.
So notice how I’ve said “as a child” or “as a kid I wouldn’t…”. and then… or “I would…”, and then “the thing”.
And that just means that “that thing” happened all the time.
So, “I would spend hours playing video games”, every single day, every single week, every single month.
It happened a lot.
Or, “I wouldn’t eat broccoli” at all dinners.
So periodically, all the time, as a habit.
“I wouldn’t eat broccoli”.
So I hope that helps Aly.
It’s a bit of a shallow attempt at covering those different modal verbs.
It’s kind of hard for me to go into them in great lengths all together.
That would definitely require individual episodes.
So I hope this is kind of helped.
Go over it a few times and try and get sort of the basic idea of how I would or wouldn’t use these.
And then get out there and practice them.
I think that is one of the biggest tips that I can give you for practicing modal verbs and auxiliary verbs is to focus on one at a time, to look for real examples sentences, and then to play with those sentences.
So like conjugate through them using different pronouns. I would rehearse them myself alone in my room.
So I would, like, speak to myself and say things like “When I was a kid I would do this. He would do this. She would do this as a kid. We would do this. They would do this”.
And then, for instance, I would go to “should”.
“I should help. I should do this. I should do that.”
I would try maybe picking one at a time, spend 30 seconds coming up with sentences off the top of your head, and just play with them.
You could also do this writing if you really really want to practice your writing skill and practice these modal verbs.
And I would again conjugate through, use them in as many different ways as you can while writing.
And eventually the meanings are going to sink in and you will do it naturally.
But I think it’s one of those things if you want to chop down a whole forest you do it tree by tree.
You look at the first tree you want to chop down and then you chop that tree down. Repeat the process.
And eventually there’s no more forest.
You don’t look at the forest and think how am I ever going to chop down all these trees.
You just have to do a bit by bit.
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And Aly thank you so much for the question.
Thank you so much for leaving me a voicemail.
See you guys.
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