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Hi everybody. Welcome back to Ask Alisha, the weekly series where you ask me questions and I answer them. Maybe.
The first question this week comes from Minh Thư. Hi Minh. Minh says, hi Alisha, could you please show me how to pronounce these symbols.
So the first symbol here in your list is this mark. So this is read as #hashtag. So we use this a lot on social media like Twitter, Instagram. This mark means hashtag or is read as hashtag. If however you are reading it in like a phone number, it’s read as the pound sign. So that’s kind of a lesser used word for this symbol. In most cases today, we read this as hashtag, hashtag.
So this symbol is read as @ at or at mark. So we use this a lot on, again Twitter or Instagram when we want to at somebody or when we want to contact somebody or tag them in something. So we call this the at mark. The at mark. So this very short Dash is called a hyphen, a hyphen. So I also just used the word Dash. So actually, there are three dashes, there are three small lines that we use when we are writing in English and actually native speakers often don’t know the differences between these.
So the first one here, the shortest one is called a Hyphen. So we use this when we are connecting words. So for example like extra-crispy or free-for-all. We use hyphens to connect these small words together.
The next longest Dash is called an en dash, and en dash is used when we want to, for example, mark like time periods. So for example like 2002-2007. Instead of writing 2 in 2002-2007, we may use an en dash. So that’s like this medium length dash actually.
The third kind of dash is the longest dash. This is called the em dash. The em dash is used for breaks in speech. So like when you’re speaking and you stop in your speech and you want to make an extra point or you want to emphasize something, we set off that extra point with an em dash. We use em dashes when we want to make an extra point in a sentence—like to give an example—and we want to continue talking after that.
So I just gave an example of that when I said, like to give an example, that sort of like extra information I want to add in the sentence. We can use em dashes on both sides of that to set it off in the text.
Some people choose to use parentheses to do that. So that’s actually the next item on your list, parentheses. So there are those two kind of like curved lines, parentheses. So the one that opens this way, this is called the open parentheses. We begin our parenthetical information with the open parentheses mark. The other side is called the closed parentheses mark. So these are called parentheses, parentheses.
The thing that looks like a dash or like a hyphen but it’s kind of low. That’s called an underscore. An underscore. You might also hear it called an underbar. So underscore or underbar.
So another item from your list was this little star. This tiny little star is called an asterisk. An asterisk. We read that as asterisk. It’s kind of hard to say even for native speakers.
Um, then for questions, when we are making questions, we finish the sentence with a question mark. We call that a question mark and then it’s not on your list but when we have like a shocking statement or a surprising statement, we use the exclamation mark. The exclamation mark or the exclamation point. That’s what that’s called.
Your final item on the list ah was this thing. That’s called a slash. A slash. You can use a front slash or a backslash if you want to be very specific but in most cases, just using slash is fine. So I hope that that helps you understand some very common marks that we use in our writing. So thanks very much for this interesting question.
Okay. Let’s move along to your next question. Next question comes from Safia. Hi Safia. Safia says, hi Alisha, what is the difference between farther and further, a lot of and lots of, for example and for instance.
Okay. About your last two pairs, a lot of and lots of, they are the same. And for example and for instance, those are also the same. For instance might sound slightly more formal than for example. But generally speaking, these are used exactly the same way. You can use them in the same way in every situation that I can think of. Okay but I do want to talk about your first pair here. Farther and further. Um, farther and further, when you are talking about distance, they can be used the same. We use them the same way when we are talking about distance. This can be like ah distance in time, it can be like a physical distance as well.
However, further has some uses that farther does not. So, further can also mean more. Some examples.
We need to look further into this problem.
She further refined her skills by taking a training course.
Further can also mean additionally. When it has this meaning, it typically comes at the beginning of a sentence or at the beginning of a clause.
So for example,
We plan to make a new product this month. Further, we plan to sell 1000 units in the first week. So that further means additionally or more over there.
So farther does not have this meaning. Further does. So this is one important difference. But remember, when you are talking about distance, you can use either. I hope that this helps. Thanks very much for your question.
All right. Let’s move along to your next question. Next question comes from Nacho. Hi Nacho. Nacho says, hi Alisha, English speakers use crispy, crunchy and crisp when they explain food. What’s the difference?
Okay. Let’s talk about crispy and crunchy first. I want to focus on crunchy to begin with. So crunchy comes from the word crunch. So when we eat crunchy foods, in our mouth, they make a crunching sound. It’s like hard to eat these things. Crunchy foods are often like hard candies. It may be like peppermint or it could be like um carrots for example. It could be really crunchy. Nuts can be really crunchy. So when we eat them, we have to chew a lot and they make a crunching sound in our mouth. That’s a crunchy food.
Crispy on the other hand is kind of like light crunchy and crispy foods are foods that are like often fried foods. So like the outside part of something is crispy. So for example like crispy skin on fried chicken or like crispy potato chips or crispy bacon. So these things aren’t like noisy foods. They don’t really make a crunching sound. Maybe it’s like a light crunching sound when we eat them but they have kind of a lighter feel about them and they are often yes, fried foods. These are crispy things.
Crisp then refers to something usually like a fruit or a vegetable that is very fresh. So something that is crisp is like perfectly ripe. So like a crisp apple or a crisp pear. You could also use it to talk about like celery or again carrots. So something that’s just right is crisp. We don’t really use this word to talk about squishy things. So like berries or oranges or grapefruits. We don’t use crisp to talk about those. Crisp is usually something that’s solid. So when you bite into something that’s crisp, you might hear like a nice like a slicing sound. That’s something that’s crisp.
Additionally, crisp is used to talk about like the weather or to talk about smells too. It’s usually for something that’s kind of fresh. When we use crisp to talk about the weather, it usually means something like a day that is kind of fresh. The air is very fresh and a little bit cold as well too. So this is crisp. So I hope that that helps you understand the differences between crunchy and crispy and crisp. Go forward and use them.
Okay. Thanks very much for the question.
Okay. Let’s move along to your next question. The next question comes from shahrouz. Hi shahrouz. Shahrouz says, hi Alisha, what is the difference between a few and few. Also a little and little. Yeah, nice question.
Okay. Let’s look at some example sentences to compare. First,
The company bought a few computers.
Second, the company bought few computers.
Okay. So the first sentence in this pair sounds like a simple statement of fact. The company bought a small number of computers. That’s what it means. If the speaker is really excited when they say this like the company bought a few computers. Maybe it sounds kind of positive. In general, it’s kind of a neutral, just simple statement of fact. Just information.
The second sentence however, the company bought few computers can have a little bit more of like a disappointed or a negative feel. So yes, this sentence means, the company purchased a small amount of computers but it kind of has the feeling that like maybe the speaker wishes the company had purchased more computers like um, the company purchased few computers. So it sounds like there is a little bit of disappointment there.
One more example. A few people attended the meeting.
And few people attended the meeting.
Again, in the first example, it kind of feels like a simple statement of fact. Again, depending on speaker intonation like, a few people attended the meeting, it could sound a little more excited, more positive but generally, it’s kind of neutral. It’s a simple statement.
The second sentence here though. Few people attended the meeting sounds kind of disappointed or a little bit more negative. So we see the same thing with a little and little.
I made a little progress on my project today. And,
I made little progress on my project today.
This is the same kind of idea. So I made a little progress on my project today is a simple statement of fact and it can sound more excited. It can sound more positive depending on the speaker’s intonation.
The second sentence, I made little progress on my project today sounds more disappointed, sounds more negative.
So this is a very small point I know. But it can kind of change the feeling of your sentence when you make the decision. So if you want to sound just kind of neutral or if you want to have a little bit of a feeling of positivity, you could use a few or a little. If you want to use kind of a negative or disappointed feel, you can use no article there. Few or little.
Okay. So I hope that that helps you understand. Thank you very much for interesting question. All right. Let’s move on to your next question.
Next question comes from Gautam. Hi Gautam. Gautam says, could you tell me the difference between that and which. Oh yeah.
Okay. So this is kind of related to a more advanced grammar point actually and not a lot of native speakers know the difference between these two. The difference between that and which generally speaking for kind of intermediate level learners is that which is going to sound more formal most of the time. So we use that and which as relative pronouns. We can use both of these words to talk about people and to talk about things.
But in more advanced grammar, when we are looking at relative clauses which give us extra information about a noun, there are two types of relative clause and depending on the type of relative clause, we choose a different pronoun. So there is a kind of relative clause that’s called a restrictive or some people call it a descriptive clause. This means it’s information about a noun that is essential to understanding the noun like we have to have this information in order to understand the noun.
So an example is, the car that my mom bought is really fast. So here, the relative clause is, that my mom bought. So we have to have this information in order to understand the car. If we don’t have this information, we might not be able to understand which car the speaker is talking about. So for example, if I want to like compare the car that my mom bought with the car that my dad bought, it’s very important to clearly say, the car that my mom bought is really fast. The car that my dad bought is really big.
I have to have that relative clause in order to communicate this essential information. So this is an example of what’s called a restrictive clause or a descriptive clause as well. When you are using a descriptive clause, you have to use that to show it. Then, on the other hand, when you are using a non-restrictive clause or what’s called a non-descriptive clause for some people, you don’t have to use that. Instead, you use which.
So an example of a non-restrictive clause is something like, this phone which I bought two years ago is really convenient. So here, my relative clause is, which I bought two years ago. So if I remove that from the sentence, my sentence becomes, this phone is really convenient. So it’s grammatically correct and I still understand which phone we are talking about. I still understand that from this sentence. So, in these cases, the information in that relative clause is not essential. I don’t need that information to understand the noun.
In these cases, we use which and you will also notice that these non-restrictive relative clauses are set off with commas. So we have a comma at the beginning and a comma at the end of the clause. So these are a couple of different ways that you can kind of spot restrictive and non-restrictive clauses. So again, this is kind of a more advanced grammar point and something that even like lots of native speakers don’t know. But that is the difference. That is the difference in terms of grammar and in terms of your pronoun choice. So I hope that that helps you. Thanks very much for this question.
Okay. That’s everything that I have for you for this week. Thank you as always for sending your interesting 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 and I will see you again next week. Bye bye!

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