Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. Welcome back to Ask Alisha, the weekly series where you ask me questions and I answer them, maybe.
First question this week comes from Mai. Hi, Mai. Mai says, "Hi, Alisha. Can you explain the difference between 'attractive' and 'attracting?' For example, ‘Denver is a famous tourist destination and is renowned for its cuisine and something scenery.’" I would use the word, “attractive” here, “attractive” in the adjective form. "Attracting" would be the progressive form of the verb "attract." “To attract” means to draw something or to pull something in, like to gain attention for some reason. “Attractive,” on the other hand, means something that is appealing, something that seems good or exciting, something that people want. That's something that's attractive. Let's look at a few examples of how we would use this. "Denver's delicious cuisine and beautiful scenery are attracting many tourists.” “Our job advertisement is attracting lots of great candidates.” “The light bulb in our living room is attracting moths." Now, let's compare this to "attractive," the adjective. "The travel company prepared some attractive summer vacations for customers.” “A good sense of humor is very attractive.” “How do we make our products more attractive?" I hope that this helps you understand the difference between "attractive" and "attracting." Thanks very much for the question. Let's move on to your next question.
Next question this week comes from Aymen. Hi, Aymen. Aymen says, "Hi, Alisha. I'm from Algeria. My first question is, one, what is the difference between 'years' and 'year old?' My second question, when can we use ‘I were’ instead of ‘I was?’" Regarding your first question, we use "years old" to talk about age. We do not use "year" to talk about age. The only time that we use "year old," in the singular is when we're talking about a baby, a baby that is one year old. In all other cases, we use the plural, “years old.” "He's 13 years old.” “She is 47 years old." When we're talking about age, we use “year” in the plural form, “years old,” to do that. When you're talking about a length of time, you can use "year" or "years" to talk about that. Just remember that "years old" is for ages.
Regarding your second question, then, about "I were" and "I was." We use "I were" when we're talking about unreal situations. This can be something that's in the past and it can be something that's in the present. Some great examples are "If I were a doctor," or "if I were a teacher," or "if I were rich." That means you are not that thing now. It's not a real situation. It's not true. We use "I were" to describe those kinds of situations. A lot of native speakers, actually, make a mistake with this. They use "I was," like "if I was a doctor," "if I was a teacher," "if I was rich." It's actually not correct, but so many people have made this mistake that it's quite common now. It's become quite common, actually. But the correct way to express unreal situations is with "if I were." If I were. We use "was" just to make simple past tense statements about ourselves. Like, "I was a teacher five years ago," or "I was in the car this morning," for example. "I were" is for unreal situations, "I was" is for simple past tense statements about yourself. I hope that this helps you. Thanks very much for the question. Let's move on to your next question.
Next question comes from Achraf. I hope I said that right. Hi, Achraf. Achraf says, "Hi, Alisha. I've been learning English for many years now in school, but I feel that my English level has stagnated over the past few years, so I've started reading English classic books like Jane Austen and the Bronte's books. In the beginning, I looked up every word I didn't understand, but I have to stop about 20 times every page, I decided to just read without looking up the difficult words. Do you think this is a good idea?" I think that your strategy sounds good but the book that you're using sounds too difficult. I think that using a book to learn like this is great. One of the problems here, though, is that classic English literature is often written in old-fashioned English. That means that the book's English and today's English is a bit different. If you're learning English, I probably would say don't choose a classic English literature book as it's going to be difficult to read. Just the way that things are expressed in those books are different from the way that we speak in everyday life. I would recommend first choose an easier book. By that, I mean choose a book that was written recently, fairly recently. Also, I would suggest, when you're making your book choice, try to choose something that you can understand about 70% of without a dictionary. It sounds like right now, if you're stopping 20 times per page, that the book is too difficult. Look for something that you can stop maybe two, three, four, five maybe tops at the most per page; otherwise, I think you're going to kill your motivation and you'll feel just discouraged and you don't get to enjoy what you're reading. I would say choose something that's modern and choose something that you can get about 70% of without using a dictionary. That's different for everybody. As far as what kinds of materials that might be helpful for you, I've personally found that reading biographies, stories of people's lives, is really great. I also have enjoyed using lecture books to study. I recommend these, or I've found these useful, because with a biography there are very few characters, there's usually one main character telling a clear story. There's not a lot of characters. It's usually someone you're already interested in, so you probably already have some vocabulary about that story. That's good. I also like lectures because if it's something that you're interested in, a topic you're interested in, you can gain more vocabulary about that thing, and again, maybe you already have some vocabulary. I hope that this helps you and good luck as you continue with your studies. Thanks very much for the question. Let's move along to your next question.
Next question comes from Alexander. "Hi, Alisha. I have a weird question. What's the difference between the following words, ‘murder,’ ‘homicide,’ ‘killing,’ ‘murderer,’ ‘killer,’ and ‘assassin?’" This is indeed a very weird and dark question. Let's begin with the first two words here which are "murder" and "homicide." Actually, "murder" and "homicide" refer to the same thing. "Homicide" is the legal word for murder. "Murder" means taking a person's life. "Homicide" is just the legal way to describe that. "The defendant was found guilty of homicide.” “There was a triple homicide in the city last month." "Killing" is the progressive form of the verb "kill," which we can use for people, we can use for animals, and we can also use this for time, actually, in the expression "to kill time," which just means to waste the time. "Someone is killing pets in our neighborhood." Terrible sentence. "A terrible organization killed a journalist last month." The next word on your list was "murderer." A murderer is a person who kills or has killed other people, someone who has committed murder. "Murderers are dangerous people.” “The police are looking for a murderer." Your next word is "killer." A killer, in this case, refers to someone who kills. Again, this could be animals, this could be people. We can also use the word "killer" to talk about someone who ruins things, actually. Some examples. "There's a killer on the loose.” “That guy is a conversation killer." The final word that you have here is "assassin." An assassin is someone who is highly trained in killing people. The very specific job that they have is killing people. Some examples of assassin: "The assassin was on the roof.” “The government hired an assassin." That was probably the weirdest and darkest question I've ever received on this series, but I hope that that helps you. I hope that helps answer your questions. Thanks very much for this. Let's move on to your next question.
Next question comes from Andy. Hi, Andy. Andy says, "What is the difference between these words, ‘definition,’ ‘concept,’ ‘theory,’ ‘notion,’ and ‘conception.’" “Definition.” Your first word is "definition." A definition is the accepted meaning of a word or a phrase. We find definitions in dictionaries. "Check the dictionary for the definition." Your next word was "concept." A concept is a way of thinking about something. A concept is a thought, a type of idea. "This is an exciting new concept." Your third word here was "theory." A theory is a new idea. It's something to test. We see theories used in science a lot, like “theory of something.” That means it's an idea that can be tested, we can experiment to learn more to try to prove a theory or disprove a theory. "We developed a theory about our customers." Your next word was "notion." A notion. A notion is an idea or a thought. We tend to use “notion” in more polite discussions, maybe in an academic discussion, for example. "The notion that we should wake up early and go to sleep early is crazy." Your final word is "conception." A conception. Conception is the point where a new idea forms. It's the beginning point for some new theory, for example. It's the beginning point maybe for a new project. That start point is called the “conception.” "She's been a part of this project since conception." These are all fairly similar words, but we tend to use "concept" and "notion" the same way. Some other words we use similarly are "idea" and "thought." When we're having these philosophical discussions, especially, these words get mixed around a lot. I hope that that helps you understand. Again, I would recommend checking a dictionary for other example sentences and for some other explanations of these words. I hope that that helps you.
That's everything that I have for this week. Thank you, as always, for sending your questions. Remember, you can send them to me at EnglishClass101.com/ask-alisha. Thanks very much for watching this week's episode of Ask Alisha. I will see you again next week. Bye-bye!

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