Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. Welcome back to Ask Alisha, the weekly series where you ask me questions and I answer them, maybe.
First question comes from Silver way, again. Hi, again, Silver way. Silver way says, “Hi, Alisha. Could you please tell me the meaning of the word you use so much in your lessons, ‘nuance.’ Does it mean difference or something else?” Oh, yeah, sure. “Nuance” means small difference or for vocabulary, for language learning, it means like suggested meaning. So, another way to think about nuance is like a color. So, if we imagine the color red, we can understand what “red” means but inside red, there are many different types of red, right? So, we can imagine, a nuance is like one of those types of red. It's like one way of understanding something. A sentence like, “I'm not interested in him,” or “I'm not interested in her,” this means interest, yes, we see interest in that word but the nuance of this phrase, the feeling of this phrase is like romantic interest. “I'm not romantically interested in him,” “I'm not romantically interested in her.” So, that's an example of nuance. We understand the category, interest but the nuance, the small difference in meaning is about romantic relationships in this case. So, yes, “nuance” means small difference in meaning for this channel. It can also mean small difference in flavor in food, for example, or small differences in facial expressions. Another example sentence might be, “We can communicate nuances through our body language and facial expressions.” So, “nuance” means small difference in meaning. I hope that that helps you and yes, that word gets used a lot on this channel. Thanks very much for the question. Let's move on to your next question.
Next question comes from Agens Eland. Hi, Agens. Agens said, “Hi, Alisha. Can you explain the difference between ‘seems’ and ‘looks like.’” Yeah, sure. Let's start with “looks like.” There are actually two patterns for “looks like.” I want to talk about this “A looks like B” pattern first. We use this when we want to talk about something that has a similar or the same appearance as something else. “A looks like B,” “That cloud looks like a rabbit,” “Your brother looks like a mouse.” These patterns mean that thing A or person A has a similar appearance to thing B or person B. That's the first meaning of looks like, the first way we use it.
The second way that we use “looks like” is to talk about guesses that we make based on visual information, information we get with our eyes. When we can see something and make a guess about it we can use “looks like.” For example, “It looks like it's gonna rain,” or “It looks like your dog is pretty hungry.” We can see something that gives us information about what might happen next or we can make a guess about the situation using something we can see.
So, with that in mind, let's continue to “seems.” We use “seems,” yes, to make guesses, sure, just like with “looks like,” the second meaning of “looks like.” But we use “seems” for things that we cannot quickly check, we cannot quickly confirm. “His new girlfriend seems nice,” Are you okay? You seem really tired today.” So, you can use “seems” for guesses that you make based on things you can see, yes. But I think it sounds more natural to use “looks like” in those cases. “Seems” is used for stuff that we can't quickly check but maybe we don't get that information based just on stuff we can see. I hope that this helps you. Thanks very much for the question. Alright, let's move on to your next question.
Next question comes from Filipe Jacomozzi again. Hi, Filipe. Filipe says, “Could you explain the pronunciation differences between the following words? One, ‘then’ and ‘than.’ And, two, ‘shore’ and ‘sure.’” Okay, sure. Let's start with the first pair of words, “then” and “than.” “Then,” “than.” Maybe it's a little easier to hear when speaking slowly the difference is, “then,” “than.” But actually, another good way that you can kind of discover which word is being used is to consider the way the word is used in the sentence. It's not that native speakers are listening to each word separately. We're listening to the whole sentence so we're not just paying attention to one sound but we're thinking of the way the sentence is made. You'll see, “than,” used a lot in comparative sentence structures. Examples, “I like dark colors more than light colors,” “We should buy more drinks than snacks,” “She said your dessert was better than all the others.” You can see here that all of these sentences use a comparison. We're saying something is better than something else. So, we know that “than” is being used there but even though we're saying it really quickly and it sounds like “then” we understand the correct spelling because of the grammatical structure of the sentence.
Let's compare this to how “then” is used. “I have to go to the office this morning then I'm going to the airport,” “We saw a movie then ate dinner,” “He broke up with his girlfriend last week. He seem pretty sad since then.” You can see that these are not comparative sentences. The first two examples are sequence examples. One thing happened, another thing happened after that. We used “then” to show that. In the last example sentence, we're using then to refer to a period of time. You'll notice then that the positioning of the words, the grammatical function of the words, these are different. Again, you can listen rather to the whole structure, the way the sentence is made instead of focusing just on those sounds, “than” and “then.”
Regarding your second question about “shore” and “sure.” These have different sounds in American English though they could have very similar sounds in British English. Again, just listen for the ways these words are used. “Shore” is a word that would probably be used when talking about the beach or someplace near a body of water. “Sure” is used to express agreement or to ask a question like, “Are you sure?” “Sure.” So, think about the ways these words are used not just their individual pronunciations. I hope that this helps you. Thanks for the question. Okay, let's move on to your next question.
Next question comes from Diana. Hi, Diana. Diana says, “Hi, Alisha. Could you explain the subjunctive mood?” Oh, yeah. Subjunctive mood is a pretty big topic actually. To speak about it quite generally, we use subjunctive mood to talk about unreal situation like wishes, possibilities, suggestions, making demands. Also, an important point to note is that the subjunctive mood is not a tense, it's not a tense. It's rather kind of a way of communicating unreal information. It's sort of follows its own grammatical rules. So, let's look at a few examples in the subjunctive mood. “I wish I were there to celebrate your birthday with you,” “If I were you, I would look for a new job,” “We demand he give us a refund.” In each of these example sentences, the subjunctive mood is used to communicate something that's not real. We see a wish in the first example sentence, an unreal situation. In the second one, we're seeing like a piece of advice for an unreal situation and the third one is a request or a demand, this is considered unreal because the demand, the thing being requested or demanded has not happened yet or it may not happen. So, subjunctive mood is not so commonly used actually because it is kind of difficult to use for many people. It has like its own grammatical rules which you can see a good example of in the third example sentence here, “We demand he give us a refund.” There, in most sentences, we would be required to conjugate the verb to “gives,” “he gives” something. But, when we're using the subjunctive mood, it takes on this kind of grammar, “he'd give us a refund.” It is kind tricky, it is a bit complex, the subjunctive. I would suggest if you're interested in learning more about the subjunctive and how to make statements like this, start by learning a few of the common patterns. By that, I mean the “if I were” or “I wish I were.” Those are the first two example sentences here. Those are some great patterns that you can use to start making subjunctive mood sentences. Other things can get a little bit trickier getting into like some future perfect tense statements in the subjunctive mood but maybe I can make a whiteboard video or two about that in the future. I hope that this gives you kind of an introduction to the subjunctive mood. Thanks very much for the question. Alright, let's move on to the next question.
Next question comes from Wajahat Khan. Hi, Wajahat. Wajahat says, “Hi, Alisha. What is the meaning of the word ‘gee whiz’ and how can we use it in our everyday life situations?” Sure. So, “gee whiz” is an old-fashioned word that means wow, cool, amazing but it's very old-fashioned. It sounds like something people said in like the 1950s in the U.S. We really don't use this word now. It's something we would only use if we want to sound sarcastic or if we want to make a joke. If you use this now you're probably going to sound sarcastic like, “A raise? Gee whiz, thanks.” “Free tickets to Disneyland? Gee whiz.” It just sounds really silly. It sounds silly even giving these example sentences. I wouldn't really recommend using this in everyday life these days just because it does sound old-fashioned and it sounds more like a joke. But, it really means wow or amazing or cool. I hope that that helps you. Thanks for the question.
Okay, that's everything that I have for you for this week. Thanks as always for watching. Of course, if you want to send your questions to me, send them to 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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Friday at 06:36 PM
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Hello Liz,

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Liz Navarrete
Friday at 10:33 AM
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Thanks Alisha 👍