Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. Welcome back to Ask Alisha, the weekly series where you ask me questions and I answer them, maybe.
Let's get to your first question this week. First question comes from Karima. Hi again, Karima. Karima says, "Hi, Alisha. Could you please tell me what 'can't you tell?' means? Thanks." We use the word "tell" to mean understand. In casual conversations, "tell" means understand. It doesn't mean share information, it means understand or no. We use this a lot in questions. For example, "How can you tell?" "How can you tell?" means how do you know? Can you tell, how can you tell? This is quite a common pattern with this word. We would use "can't you tell" in a situation where we're trying to confirm that the listener does not understand or does not notice something. โ€œCan't you tell?โ€ We're using the negative, "can't" because we're confirming. "Can't you tell?" We would use this in a situation where, maybe, the speaker has some change, or there's something that they hope the listener notices but, maybe, the listener does not notice and the speaker wants to confirm. For example, "I got a haircut. Can't you tell?" "This is an expensive suit. Can't you tell?" Another way of saying "can't you tell" is aren't you able to notice or aren't you able to understand? You're confirming something. "I got a haircut. Can't you tell?" It's like the speaker is surprised that the listener doesn't notice. These are the situations where we would use the negative, "can't you tell?" When we use the positive form, "can you tell?" we're actually asking for information. An example is "Oh, no. I spilled coffee on my white pants. Can you tell?" meaning "are you able to notice?" or "can you see that I spilled coffee on my pants?" for example. "I went to a really smoky restaurant for lunch. Can you tell?" "Are you able to notice because of the way I smell?" "Can you tell?" is asking for information, like "Can you see? Can you notice?" "Can't you tell?" is a confirmation question. Just remember "tell" is used to mean "understand." I hope that that helps you. Thanks very much for the question. Let's move on to your next question.
Next question comes from bakhtar Khan. Hi, bakhtar. bakhtar says, "Hi, Alisha. What is the meaning of 'rather?' I really can't use it in a sentence." There are a couple of different ways to use "rather." First, we can use "rather" to introduce preferences. A great example of this is "Would you rather A or B?" We're introducing our options with the word "rather." Then, when we give our preference, we can use "rather" to do that. We can say "I would rather A than B." This is giving us options. We can use it to give those options, and we can use it to explain our choice. You can think of "rather" like "prefer," meaning you would desire one thing more than another thing. "I would rather drink coffee than tea." "She would rather watch a movie at home than go to a theater." "Rather" sounds a bit more casual than "prefer." The second use of "rather than" is to use the word to mean a better way of saying something that I just said. "I use social media every day. Rather, I check social media every day. I don't always post." When we use rather in a sentence like this, it means a better or perhaps a more accurate way to say what I just said is this. In the first sentence, I said, "I use social media every day." Then, I said "rather," which means more accurately or a better way to say that is "I check social media every day." You can hear with my intonation, I'm focusing on the word that I'm changing. In the first sentence, my verb was "use." "I use social media every day." When I use this "rather" pattern, I'm emphasizing with my voice the change that I have made. "I check social media every day." That's the thing that's more accurate. When we use "rather," this is a common emphasis pattern. Let's look at one more example. "He hates going on business trips. Rather, he hates the paperwork required for going on business trips." In that case, we're making the statement a little bit more accurate and we use "rather" to explain that. He doesn't hate business trips, he hates the paperwork he has to do for business trips. We use "rather" in this way as well. Those are two ways to use the word "rather." I hope that this helped you understand. Thanks very much for the question. Let's move on to your next question.
Next question this week comes from Tan Teshin. Hi, Tan. Tan says, "Number one, what's the difference between 'important,' 'essential,' and 'significant?' Two, what is the meaning of 'time after time,' 'year after year,' or 'day after day?'" Let's look at your first question, "important," "essential," and "significant." "Important" means it requires attention, something that requires our attention. Some examples, "We have some important news to share. It's important we have a meeting soon." "Essential" means important and we cannot do without it. If we don't have this thing, something negative might happen. Some examples. "Health care is essential for all citizens." "It's essential we solve these problems as soon as possible." "Significant" means something very noticeable, or to a great degree, to a great extent. Examples, "There was a significant increase in profits last year." "We lost a significant amount of inventory in the storm." That's a quick introduction to the differences between "important," "essentially," and "significant."
Now, let's go on to your question about "year by year," or "day by day," and those kinds of patterns. We just use these to emphasize that over time, something happened. For example, "Year by year, she improved her English speaking abilities." It means as years passed, something occurred gradually. "Day by day, he grew more and more proficient at playing the trumpet," for example. It's referring to something that continues over a period of time that's expressed with this "day by day" or "year by year." If it's an everyday action, you could use "day by day" to mean a child growing, for example. "Day by day, the child grew stronger." Or, if it's something that's more long-term like language studies, you could say "Year by year, our English-speaking abilities grew." We're talking about a continuing action over time, usually that grows or the changes in some way. We can use these kinds of expressions to talk about that progress. I hope that that helps you. Thanks very much for the question. Let's move on to your next question.
Next question this week comes from Bruno Donizete Bueno. Hi, Bruno. Bruno says, "Hi, Alisha. Please tell me what is the difference between 'I go' and 'I will go.'" Okay. "I go" begins a present tense statement. So, that's something that happens now, like part of a schedule or just something that you regularly do. Examples, "I go shopping every weekend." "I go to the dentist once a year." "I will go" is a future tense statement, a simple future tense statement. When you use "will," you're talking about something that's probably in the near future and maybe something you've just made a decision about. Examples, "I'll go with a latte please." "I think I'll go to the movies after work." "Will go" is a future tense statement, "I go" is a present tense statement. Hope that that helps you. Thanks for the question. Let's move on to your next question.
Next question for this week comes from Konstantin. Hi, Konstantin. Konstantin says, "Hi, Alisha. Is there a difference between 'because' and 'cause?' It seems to me they have a similar meaning." Yes, these are the same. "Because" and "cause" have the same meaning. We right "cause" without "be" at the beginning just to be more casual, to be a little bit more friendly. You can use them in the same way. I would recommend if, however, you are writing something like an essay or paper, something formal, make sure to use "because," always spell the full word "because." On the other hand, you may also find an even shorter version, or rather a shorter spelling of this word, C-U-Z, cuz. "Cuz" also means "because," but we just use this "cuz" because it's quick and easy to type, but it's also just the way that native speakers say "because" in everyday speech. We don't always say "because." Clearly, we use "cuz," like "I'm going to the store cuz I want to get something to eat." "Cuz," C-U-Z is something you might see a lot in texts or on social media as well. Yes, "because," "cause," and "cuz" all have the same meaning, because. Thanks very much for the question. Hope that that helps.
That's everything that I have for you for this week. Thanks, 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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