Lesson Transcript

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 Grisha. Hi Grisha. Grisha says, hi Alisha, I want to ask about the usage of the phrase something is/was being.
For example, “my house is being robbed by somebody.” Apparently, this means, the house is being robbed at the moment, but why can’t we say it like, “my house is robbing now by somebody?” What’s the difference?
Okay. So this is because the is being/was being pattern is a passive form. So we use the passive voice when we don’t know the person or the thing doing an action or when that person or thing is not important. So in this case in your example sentence, my house is being robbed by someone, we don’t know exactly who the person is. So that’s why we use “by someone” We don’t know exactly that person. The reason we cannot say, “my house is robbing” is because the grammar of the sentence changes there. Here my house becomes the actor in the situation. “My house is robbing.” That means, “my house” in this case is stealing something and that’s not possible unless your house has like legs and can move which is not realistic.
So “my house is robbing” doesn’t make any sense. A house cannot steal anything. So the passive form, “my house is being robbed by someone” shows that the house is like the thing that’s receiving the action. If, however you do want to use the active voice, you can change it so that the robber is the subject of the sentence.
For example, “someone is robbing my house.” In that case, this unknown person, someone is the subject. Robbing is our verb in the progressive tense and we see that that means, it’s happening now and the object of the verb is, my house. So we can use an active sentence to express the same thing or if we want to focus on the house, we can use the passive voice. So “my house is being robbed by someone.”
So this is a quick introduction to one pattern that uses passive voice. I hope that it was helpful for you. Thanks very much for the question.
Okay. Let’s move along to your next question. Next question comes from Melih Karasu. Hi Melih. Melih says, hi Alisha, can you explain leverage? I often encounter it as a verb in the documentation about IT. Thanks. Ah yeah. Leverage gets used in business a lot. So leverage as a verb means, “to make use of” or “to take advantage of something.” This can often have a negative nuance which means like “to exploit something.” So “to exploit” means to use someone else usually, to use something or to use another person for your own gain usually without caring about that person very much. So leverage can kind of have this feel sometimes.
Some examples. We need to leverage our connections to make this deal successful.
Our team leveraged the bad news about our competitor to create positive publicity for our company.
So here, leverage means, “make use of something else” or “take advantage of something else” usually for your own gain. So in IT stuff, perhaps, it just means, “make use of something” but oftentimes, when you are talking about people or your connections, it can mean like “exploit” like you are just trying to get something from people which is generally seen as a negative thing. So, we will keep an eye out for this, leverage as a verb means “to take advantage of something.”
Okay. So I hope that that helps answer your question. Thank you very much for sending it along. Let’s move along to your next question. Next question comes from karima. Hi again, karima. Karima says, Hi Alisha, could you please tell me the difference in meaning between hurt and get hurt and how does “get” modify the verb?
Okay. First about using “get” to modify verbs. Think of “get” as “become.” So “get” means “become” here like “become hurt” but we don’t say, “become hurt.” It sounds way too formal, way too polite. So “get” here means “become.” But we use “get hurt” when we maybe don’t want to focus so much on exactly the reason we received an injury or maybe it’s not known or we want to just focus on the action like the injury itself. We don’t want to focus on the cause of that.
I got hurt at basketball practice yesterday.
My friend got hurt at work!
So we use hurt when the person or the thing that causes the injury is quite clear and we want to communicate that for some reason.
Some examples of that.
I hurt my arm snowboarding last year. That’s true.
A kid hurt my friend when he kicked her! That’s also true.
So in these example sentences, the cause of the injury is clear. When we use “get hurt” or “got hurt” maybe we want to focus on like the location where the injury happened or maybe like the time period for example. Maybe we don’t want to focus on the cause so much. So I hope that this helps you understand the differences between “hurt” and “get hurt”
Thanks very much for the question. Okay, let’s move along to your next question. Next question comes from Lion, Hi again Lion. Lion says, hi Alisha, my question is, when I want to use conjunctions, when should I only use a comma?
For example, I like cooking but I don’t like washing dishes afterwards. When should I use both a comma and a semicolon?
For example, Gold mining is very profitable industry; however, there are certain risks involved.
Ah good. Yeah. Nice question. So when you are using a simple coordinating conjunction like and, but, or, for, so. When you are using one of those to connect independent clauses just as you’ve done, just use a comma before your coordinating conjunction. So in your example sentence, that was perfect.
So when you are using an adverb as a conjunction like in your example, however. Also like moreover, therefore, those kinds of words, when you are using that to connect two independent clauses, use a semicolon and a comma. So you can call these conjunctive adverbs. So we are using the adverb like to connect these two independent clauses. So just as you did in your example, use a semicolon before your conjunctive adverb and a comma after it.
Some more examples.
We’d planned to leave town today; however, the weather forced us to change our plans.
I’ve decided to move to a new city; therefore, I’m quitting my job.
So I hope that this helps you. When you are using these adverbs as conjunctions, you can follow this rule. Otherwise, just follow the rule for simple independent clauses joined with a coordinating conjunction. Also, I made a video about comma uses that you can find on the channel as well. So I hope that that gives you some more information. Thanks very much for this question.
Okay. Let’s move along to your next question. Next question comes from Andrei. Hi Andrei. Andrei says, hi Alisha, Update and Upgrade. What is the difference? Okay yeah. Update means to make a small change to an existing thing. So for this answer, let’s imagine we are talking about software, a piece of like anti-virus software. So when you update your anti-virus software, you receive new information about that. So you download and update. There is something new, there’s some kind of small change that you make to the existing software.
So your software doesn’t change like your – the name of your software does not change but you get something new. So you updated it. It’s like a little refresh for what you have. When you upgrade, however, it’s like you level up. So if you imagine you are using like anti-virus software C and one day you find out, oh, anti-virus software B is really great, I have to pay money but it looks good. So you buy the software. You can say, I upgraded to anti-virus software B. So I got an upgrade or I purchased an upgrade. So that means, you got a totally new software. So in this case, you did not update to software B. You upgraded to software B. So updates are for like small pieces of information that sort of refresh something that’s existing. Upgrade means you level up something.
So some other situations where we use this are like airlines, for example. So we say like, I was upgraded to business class or I was upgraded to first class or I upgraded to first class. We do not use update there.
Another example is when you’re sharing a scheduling information with your co-workers. So, we will share like an update, a quick update about the schedule or please share updates about the schedule with me or I have a small update for you. We do not use upgrade in this situation. So, when you are kind of refreshing existing information, you can use update. When you are getting something totally new like another level, you can use upgrade. So I hope that that helps you understand the difference. Thanks very much for this question.
All right. 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 and I will see you again next week. Bye-bye!

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