Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! Welcome back to Ask Alisha, the weekly series where you ask me questions and I answer them, maybe.
Okay, let’s get to your first question this week.
First question this week comes from Henry Laurent Khosasih.
Hello, Henry!
Henry says…
“I once heard this conversation in a TV series. A: How much are we short? B: $18.30. My question is, is the expression ‘How much are short?’ commonly used in spoken English to describe this kind of situation? Thanks! Love from Indonesia.”
Yes, great question! “To be short” means to not have enough of (something). This is a very common expression, in American English anyway, and we use this “short” in many different grammatical forms.
So, in a question, “How much are we short?” means how much more or how many more of this thing do we need?
In statements, you might hear:
“I’m three dollars short.”
Or “He’s short by about one hundred fifty dollars.”
Or “We’re short a few chairs, I’ll get some from the other room.”
So, you’ll notice that there’s a “by” after “short” in example 2 here, in “He’s short by a hundred fifty dollars.” You can choose to include that if the number or if the amount comes after the word “short”. If the number comes before the word “short”, you should not include “by”.
So, “I’m three dollars short.”
“I’m one hundred fifty dollars short.”
If the number follows “short”, “He’s short by about a hundred fifty dollars,” you can include it, but you do not have to, as in the third example sentence, “We’re short a few chairs.” So, we do not have to include “by”, but we can. “We’re short by a few chairs” is also totally correct, so that’s up to you.
We can also use “short” in this way to mean not enough, as a verb, as in, “The bartender shorted me on my drink,” which means the bartender did not pour enough liquid into my drink or, “I think the cashier shorted me on my change,” which means I think the cashier did not give me enough change. So you may also hear this used as a verb in this way.
So, yes, to answer your question again, it is a very common expression, it’s very useful, and it means to not have enough of (something) and to recognize that and to kind of make a question or a statement about what should have been provided or what is still needed. So, I hope that this helps you. Thanks very much for the question.
Let’s move on to your next question.
Next question comes from Nilo Peñaflor.
Hello, Nilo!
Nilo says…
“Hi, Alisha! I’m confused about the word ‘compromise’. It has several meanings. Can you please explain it and use it in some sentences?”
Sure. I talked a little bit about the difference between “compromise” and “agreement” in a recent episode of Ask Alisha, so let’s refresh there to begin.
A “compromise” refers to an agreement that you reached, an agreement that you make, after changing your plans a little bit. So, side A and side B have different ideas about something. They change their ideas slightly and make an agreement. So that agreement is called a compromise, so it’s not quite A’s idea, not quite B’s idea, but they kind of work together to find a solution, so that’s a “compromise”, that’s a noun.
We can use this as a verb as well. “To compromise” means to make an agreement after changing both plans a little bit.
Where there might be some confusion, however, is in the other ways to use “compromise” as a verb. We use “compromise” as a verb to mean to expose or to reveal something that’s supposed to be hidden or to reveal something that is supposed to be secret So, you might have heard it used in this way in like action films, like James Bond movies or like Mission Impossible movies. You might hear a sentence like, for example, “James Bond has been compromised,” which means someone realized James Bond, the spy, was in a location and he was supposed to be hidden, he was supposed to be like a secret agent like no one is supposed to know about him, but someone learns about him. Someone exposes James Bond. He’s no longer safe.
So, “compromise” in that way refers to (something) or in this case, (someone) being exposed or revealed that was supposed to be confidential, that was supposed to be secret.
We can also use “compromise” as a verb in this way to talk about communication. This can be like phone calls, paperwork, official documents, and so on. In an example sentence, you might hear something like, “The President’s phone call was compromised,” which means, for example, someone who was not supposed to listen to the phone call heard information, private information, or maybe, information inside the call was shared to someone who was not supposed to have the information.
So, “was compromised” or “has been compromised” as in my James Bond example sentence, you can see that this verb is commonly used in the passive form because we don’t always know the recipient of the information. We don’t always know the person who exposed something or revealed something.
So, there is this meaning of “compromise”. As I said, you will very commonly see this in a passive sentence structure. When you talk about making an agreement with someone, you’ll probably see it more, I would say, in an active sentence structure. As a noun then, it’s kind of different, so to make a compromise, you’ll usually see it in something like that, “to make a compromise” as part of that expression.
So, I hope that this gives you a good introduction to the different ways that we use “compromise”, especially this special meaning of revealing or exposing something that is secret. I hope that this helps you. Thanks for an interesting question.
Okay. Let’s move on to your next question.
Next question comes from Kunduzai Adyrbekova.
I hope I said that right.
Hello, Kunduzai!
Kunduzai says…
“Hi, Alisha! My question is about this statement; is it grammatical to say ‘I don’t feel like + verb in the (-ing form)?’ How do we use it in the correct way? In what cases can I use them? Thanks for your answer.”
Yes, it is grammatical to say, “I don’t feel like (verb in the -ing form).” Totally grammatical, totally natural, totally correct.
You could say:
“I don’t feel like watching a movie.”
Or, “I don’t feel like going out tonight.”
Or, “I don’t feel like doing that right now.”
So, this is a very casual expression which means I am not in the mood for that activity. We usually use it with “at this time” or “right now” or “tonight”. It sounds like something you don’t want to do now, but maybe you want to do it in the future, like “I don’t feel like watching a movie tonight.” Totally natural.
You should know, however, that this is a very casual expression. We tend to use this with very close friends or with family members, so people that we have a very close relationship with. I would not recommend you use this at work or in any other professional situation because it sounds like you have kind of a low opinion of that activity, like “I don’t feel like doing that right now.” So it sounds like it’s kind of emotional or feeling-based decision, so don’t use this in professional situations.
But yes, you can absolutely use this expression to talk about something you don’t want to do at a specific point in time, usually, so I hope that this helps you. Thanks for your question.
Okay. Let’s move on to our next question.
Next question comes from Ahmed.
Hello, Ahmed!
Ahmed says…
“Adele said, ‘But it don’t matter.’ Why did she say ‘don’t’ with ‘it’?”
Yeah, in terms of standard, like correct English, this is grammatically incorrect, but many singers like to use this kind of technically incorrect grammar to sound kind of cool or to sound kind of rough. So yes, the sentence in like standard English should be, “But it doesn’t matter,” but for various reasons including like sentence rhythm or song rhythm in this case, or also just to sound kind of cool or rough, a singer or an artist might choose to use, on purpose, incorrect grammar, in this case, “But it don’t matter.”
So, if you want to sing along with the song, great! You should use the same words that Adele uses, but if you’re speaking and you want to express this idea, make sure you use the correct grammar. “But it doesn’t matter” is actually the correct way to say this. So, I hope that this helps you. Thanks for the question.
Okay. Onto our next question.
Next question comes from Rasel.
Hello, Rasel!
Rasel says...
“Hi, Alisha! My question is, what is the difference between ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’?”
Great question! For a very broad answer, so for a very general answer, you can think of “race” as related to your biology. So, this is something that you cannot change. Your “race” is the stuff that you’re born with, essentially. So, common things that we think about with race, relating to race, maybe the color of a person’s skin or the shapes of the features of their face and so on. So, we cannot change “race”.
“Ethnicity” on the other hand is like your cultural identity. So, what are like the traditions, what are the shared values in your community, the things that make your community what it is?
So, to give an example of the difference, imagine you are a person from India and you moved to the USA with your family when you’re a baby. So, you could say, “My race is Indian. My ethnicity is Indian-American.” So, that’s the difference here. So, your race is something you cannot change. Ethnicity may change over time, for some people.
So, this is a very general answer to this question. This is a very big discussion as well too, but a very interesting one, so thanks very much for this interesting question.
Okay. That is everything that I have for this week. Thank you, as always, for sending along your great questions. Thanks very much for watching this week’s episode of Ask Alisha and I will see you again next week. Bye-bye!