Lesson Transcript

Alisha: Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. And today, I'm joined again in the studio by…
Michael: Michael. Hello!
Alisha: And today, we're going to be talking about bad habits in English. So, these are some things that we've heard before or mistakes that native speakers and non-native speakers of English make and that drive us crazy. So, let us begin. You start. What's your first thing?
Michael: This doesn't bug me too much until someone points it out about me and then it drives me nuts. Once you tell someone that they say "um" or "like" too much, then every time they say it, they notice it. And, it's really hard to get a thought out because these are filler words that you almost always use or I always use, maybe Americans always use, but, it's really tough not to use the word "like" or "um," I think, when you're just speaking casually.
Alisha: Right.
Michael: Yeah.
Alisha: Right. Well, yeah. I mean, like…
Michael: Right. See?
Alisha: Why did you have to make it that the first word? Why did it have to be the first one? Actually, we talked about that. We have a video, I think, probably like a year ago, one of the English weekly words videos where the word, "like," was one of the words that Americans overuse. I don't know where that information came from but that was—see? Now, I'm suddenly aware of it. Why? Oh, God.
This whole thing I'm going to be thinking about how often I say, "like." Okay. Let's see, I'm going to go to one that I think all of us talked about and all of us were aware of before we even turn the camera on. This one is written. This is a written problem that drives me nuts and there are so many variations on this with other words but this is the big one. "Your," Y-O-U-R, this is a do not equal sign, "you're," Y-O-U-‘-R-E. So, this one "your" while "you are," is a possessive word. "This is your shirt." "Your bag." "Your whatever." Y-O-U-‘-R-E is a contracted form of "you are." Interestingly enough, though, I will say that I rarely see non-native speakers of English make this mistake. Most of the time, it's native speakers who make this mistake. Come on, guys. Really? It just drives me nuts. That really drives me nuts.
Michael: That one bugs me, too. It's really simple. I mean, there's another one and it still kind of bugs me but I'm more forgiving is "its" and "it's" because they're both I-T-S and one of them has an apostrophe. And in both cases, it seems reasonable because you can use an apostrophe for possessive or for a contraction. So, both seem reasonable and you just have to do a pneumonic device. Figure it out, there are rules. I'm sure there's an English Class 101 episode on it.
Alisha: No apostrophe is the one that's the possessive, the "‘s" is the one that's short for "it has" or "it is."
Michael: Right. But it makes sense, it's kind of tough for some people to remember, "your," "you're," that really upsets me.
Alisha: Yes.
Michael: It's so easy.
Alisha: It's simple. That and, we talked about this earlier before, "their," "there" and "they're." The possessive T-H-E-I-R for "That's their house." "That's their dog." T-H-E-R-E, "It's over there." And T-H-E-Y-‘-R-E, "They are." They are three different, "their," "there" and "they're." They sound the same but they have different meanings and they should be spelled differently, too. So, come on native speakers, let's do this together. Alright! Next one for you. What's your next one?
Michael: Along the same lines of being correct, "could of." So, I think the problem with a lot of these words is it's supposed to be "could have," but when you're speaking the language, any language, you make it quicker and quicker and you kind of slur the words together. So, for example, "grandma" or "gramma." Native speakers don't really say the "D," you just say a "gramma." And so, as a kid, I thought that's how you spelled it and I remember spelling, G-R-A-M-M-A. Someone told me, "No, that's not it." So "could of," it makes sense why people would say, "could of," but it's not proper and you shouldn't get in the habit of doing it. I think most of these things you can be forgiving when they're kids but it's best to "nip it in the bud" because you know it just becomes a bad habit.
Alisha: Yeah. And I mean with "could have," there is a correct contracted spelled version, it's just "could've," '-V-E, "could've." I mean, I would argue that it's more casual and it's perhaps not the most correct thing to write, I probably would just write "could have." I probably wouldn't use the contracted form so much. Use of contractions will make you sound more casual. If you want to write a formal letter I feel you should not use contractions. If you're writing an academic paper, as well, don't use contractions. Spell it out, spell the whole thing out. You'll sound much more formal and more, at least in my mind, more educated. Alright. Great. This topic is getting me all like… Let's see. I'm going to go to another pronunciation issue that I feel like almost is cool now. "Lemme axe you a question." This pronunciation. Okay. So, I've written "axe" on this card, but it's "ask," A-S-K, "let me ask." So, this "lemme" which we talked about in a previous video which is short for "let me." I've contracted it here to the very casual "lemme." But I've used "lemme" here because this is typically said in a very, very casual setting. "Lemme axe you a question." But the pronunciation of "ask" should not be "axe," it's "ask." Let me ask you a question." "I want to ask you something." It's not "axe," it's "ask."
Michael: This one, again so like" lemme." "Lemme" is okay, I think most people say "lemme." I think that's okay. But for some reason "axe," I think a lot of these just are not even close at all. "Let me," when you say it really fast, it sounds like "lemme." Right? But when you say "axe," it's just totally wrong.
Alisha: Well, that is reversing the consonants in the word "ask."
Michael: Right. It's not faster, you're not making it quicker. You're not slurring or putting it into one little fluid blob. You just switch the two syllables.
Alisha: Similarly, I hear this with the word "asterisk" as well. The little star that's on the number 8 on your keyboard or whatever. This looking thing, it's not an "aksterisk." I don't even know. It's "asterisk."
Michael: So, "over pronunciation." This one is kind of the opposite direction. So, this whole time we've been kind of nitpicking when you use the incorrect version of a word. I think "over pronunciation" can also be equally as damaging but instead of making you look stupid, it makes you look pretentious. So, for example, in English, we don't use all of the syllables with "chocolate," so it's "cha," when you spell it "cho-co-late." So, maybe in Spanish or something like that, they would still say that like "cho-co-la-te," or something, whatever. But with English, we took it out. And so, even though, you still spell all of those syllables, native speakers now say "choc-late." Or, "comfortable," "com-for-ta-ble," that's how it's spelled but as native English speakers, we say "comf-ter-ble." And now, I think it's unanimous. When it becomes--when slang becomes so popular that it's part of the new language, it's the language is now evolved, if you don't go with the flow even though it's incorrect I think you sound pretentious.
Alisha: That's a great one, I like that a lot. Alright. I'm going to wrap it up. I have two, actually, I think I can do them quickly though. Do you have any more by the way?
Michael: No.
Alisha: No. Then I'll go quickly. My last two are just a couple of what my students actually struggle with. Maybe this is something that you can work on, as well. This one, just an example sentence, "I want to go to there." I've underlined the word "to" here. We use the word "to" when we're talking about a specific city or a specific country like, "I want to go to New York." "I want to go to Europe." But, "there" is not a specific location. "I want to go to there." It's not a specific place so we don't need to use "to" in this sentence. "I want to go there" is perfectly fine. So, this is a mistake that non-native speakers seem to make from time to time, perhaps.
And then, another one that I've heard a lot recently is this phrase, "in case of," and then a country. So, for example, "in case of China," "in case of Egypt" or whatever where someone is trying to explain the political situation or a policy in that country. "In case of." But actually, you don't need to use "case of," just "in China," "in Europe," "in Japan," whatever. You don't need to use "case of." This pattern, "in case of," is used for an emergency situation or used to talk about alternate plans often to do with weather. So, for example, "In case of rain, the event will be canceled." Or, "In case of tornado, please go to your nearest evacuation center." I don't know. Something like that. So, it's used for an emergency situation. It's not used to talk about policies in the countries. Just use "in" plus the place. It's much better, much more natural. So, those are a few things that I've noticed that non-native speakers struggle with sometimes. So, perhaps they'll be helpful for you as well.
So, thanks very much for watching. If you have a bad habit that you've noticed when you're speaking English or if you've noticed about a habit of somebody else in their English speaking or their writing or whatever, please leave it in the comments and let's compare. It might be interesting to see if there are any other things that people tend to struggle with. Thanks very much for watching this episode and we will see you again soon. Bye.


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Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Which word do you like the most?

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Tuesday at 04:59 AM
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Hello samrawit Embaye,

You are very welcome. 😇

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

We wish you good luck with your language studies.

Kind regards,


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samrawit Embaye
Monday at 11:06 PM
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Thanks for posting

Wednesday at 06:57 PM
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Hi Altynbek,

Our series "All About American English Talk Show" is part of the Intermediate level.

You can check out more series in our Lesson Library:


The above link is for the Intermediate level. However, you can select the desired level on the menu besides “Show”.

In case of any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.👍



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Wednesday at 01:12 AM
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Hi there,

For which level is this video?

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Wednesday at 04:49 AM
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Hello Abiodun Akindipe,

Thanks for posting!

Yes Americans make mistakes all the time when speaking its common and there are those who like to point it out when we do, just to make themselves feel better. Like when someone types your instead of you're.

If you have anymore questions please let us know!



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Abiodun Akindipe
Thursday at 11:16 PM
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Hi everyone! it has been a great time with you. The bad habit which is very common in Nigeria is calling a lout a tout. the two words do not mean the same. lout refers to a miscreant but I don't think tout mean the same thing. Do Americans make the same mistake. You can expatriate on it. thanks