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 Flavia. Hi, Flavia. Flavia says, "Hi, Alisha. Can you explain why you use 'if I were you' instead of 'was'?" Yeah. The pattern "if I were you" is an example of what's called the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive mood is something that we use to talk about unreal situations, things that are not true. We use "if I were you" to talk about the unreal situation, the unreal present situation, which refers to the fact that I am not you, like that's not a true situation. We use this subjunctive pattern "if I were you" to talk about that.
"If I was," however, would begin a simple past statement. Something in the past, but maybe the speaker is not so certain about that past thing. For example, "If I was wrong, I'm sorry," or, "If I was noisy last night, I apologize." That means the speaker has some uncertainty about the past, like, "If I was noisy last night, I don't know if I was, but maybe I was, if I was, I apologize." Those are past situations that could be possible. They're not necessarily unreal, but we want to maybe express an apology or we want to express some kind of uncertainty about something that might have affected someone in the past. "Maybe I was noisy last night," or, "Maybe I was wrong," for example. "I don't know, but if I was, then I apologize," or, "I'm sorry." We use this "if I was" for these simple past tense statements.
Actually, you will commonly hear native speakers using "if I was you," but it's not like that's going to cause any communication problems, actually. Yes, the technically correct pattern to use is "if I were you," but there are so many people that say, "If I was." It's not like a communication problem. Technically, yes, it's incorrect to say "if I was," but you're not going to have any problems if you use that pattern instead. That's the basic difference. "If I were you" refers to an unreal present situation. "If I was something" refers to uncertainty about a past situation or a past event. I hope that this helps you. Thanks very much for the question.
Okay. Let's move on to your next question. Next question comes from Kirill. Hi, Kirill. Kirill says, "Alisha, I'm stumped by trying to distinguish the difference in meaning between evaluate and assess. Could you help me?" Yeah. Great question. And actually, native speakers have trouble with the difference between these words, too. Let's talk first about the word "evaluate." A great way to remember the difference between the words "evaluate" and "assess" is to consider that inside the word "evaluate" is the word "value." When we evaluate something, we are assigning or we are giving some value to that thing or to that person. This can mean, like, the price of something. This can mean the significance of something. This can mean like the condition of something.
Some examples, "We evaluated this camera and gave it an 8 out of 10 score. Our company's software was evaluated by a tech website and given a low rating." In each of these example sentences, a certain level of value is assigned or is given to something or to someone. When we evaluate, we're doing it in order to give value, or it's like to assign or to find the value of something. It could be a score, it could be a price.
Let's compare this to the word "assess." The pronunciation is "assess." The word "assess" then has the same feel of "evaluate," but the purpose of "assess" is to understand something better. We don't assess something in order to assign a value to that thing. We're assessing something in order to understand it better. Like, we try to understand deeper information or to learn more about the details of something. We assess something. You might assess a situation. That means you look deep into the details to better understand the situation. Some more examples, "We need to assess the security of the company's data. He assessed his housing options before making a decision." This is the difference between "evaluate" and "assess." If you're ever not sure, just remember that the word "value" is inside "evaluate" to help you remember that "evaluate" is used to assign value to something. I hope that this helps you. Thanks very much for the question.
Okay. Let's move on to your next question. Next question comes from Yasser. Hi, Yasser. Yasser says, "What is the meaning of the expression 'word'? I've seen it in some movies and I can't figure out what it means." Yeah. "Word" is like a strong laid back expression of agreement among close friends. You can also use it to ask, "Really?" or "Is that true?" if you use kind of like a question intonation, so like "word." You might also hear it used in a situation where someone does something that you really admire or that you kind of respect or you think is impressive and you -- like you might hear someone say like "word" in response to that.
That kind of shows support or that you were impressed or you admire that thing. I feel like in a lot of cases, it's just used as a simple expression of agreement or understanding. For example, "We're going to watch the game tonight. Word." Personally, I don't use this word that much because it is kind of like a cool word and I'm not really like a cool hip-hop street culture kind of person. But if you want to use it, I would recommend using it among very close friends and in very casual situations. I hope that this helps you understand it. Thanks very much for the question.
All right. Let's move on to your next question. Next question comes from Brayan Talaigua. Hi, Brayan. Brayan says, "Hi, Alisha. Can you please explain to me the meanings and uses of the word 'happen'? Specifically, in these cases, 'Do you happen to…? My sister happens to be a lawyer, et cetera. I'm confused." Yeah. This is a nice question. Okay. To begin with, I want to introduce a few very common patterns that we see with the word "happen." Let's take a look. "Do you happen to have…? Would you happen to know if…? It just so happens that… My sister happens to be…
Okay. The theme with this use of the word "happen" is chance or by chance of something. Let's take a look at the first two patterns here. These first two are question patterns. The first one was, "Do you happen to have…?" And the second one was, "Would you happen to know if…?" Another way to say these is, "Is there any chance you have?" or, "Is there any chance you know?" You're asking very politely, like, "Is there a possibility? Is there a chance of this thing?" We use this form of "happen" to make very formal or very soft requests. This is really useful when you're speaking to a stranger.
If you can imagine like you're a tourist and you need some help in a city that you are unfamiliar with, you could say to a nearby person like, "Excuse me, do you happen to know where I could buy a coffee around here?" or, "Excuse me, would you happen to have the time?" That's like you're making a very soft request. That's like saying, "Is there any chance?" or, "Is it possible at all that you have this information or you could do this for me?" It's a very soft request form.
Let's take a look at the other two sentence patterns that I introduced here. These are some statement patterns. Again, these do mean "by chance," but for these kinds of statements, the context is actually really important. The situation is important. For example, "It just so happens that I got two free tickets to that concert you were talking about last week." "It just so happens" means like by chance or like something happened that was very coincidental. It just so happens that this situation fits nicely with something else in my life right now. "It just so happens I got these free tickets and this relates to having this discussion with you about a concert last week." Those two things fit nicely together. It's a nice little coincidence. "It just so happens that" is used to do that.
The other example pattern that you introduced, "My sister happens to be a lawyer," is probably something you would see in a situation where a person is looking for a lawyer and the person who says that sentence is introducing that, like, "Oh no, I need a lawyer. Do you have any recommendations?" And person B might say, "Oh, my sister happens to be a lawyer." That's like saying, "By chance, my sister is a lawyer. Coincidentally, it matches your situation nicely." That's the feeling of happens to in this case, happens to be a lawyer. Yes, you could say like, "Oh, my sister is a lawyer." That's fine as well, but it doesn't have that same nuance of coincidence. Think of "happens to" or "happens to be" as meaning by chance in these statement situations. And when you're using it as a question, it creates this formal very gentle like, "Is it possible to?" type request. I hope that that helps you understand using the word "happen" or "happens" in cases like these. Thanks very much for the question.
Okay. Let's move on to your next question. Next question comes from Cloudie. Hi, Cloudie. Cloudie says, "What's the difference between these words; admire, adore, and idolize? Thanks." Okay. Let's compare. Let's make some example sentences first. "I admire Beyonce. I adore Beyonce. I idolize Beyonce." Okay. First, let's look at "I admire Beyonce." We use "admire" for people, usually, people that we respect. Maybe we respect that person's work, or we want to be more like that person, or we think they've done great things, they're very talented. If I say, "I admire Beyonce," it means like I respect her. I respect her work. We use "admire" to mean like something or someone that we respect.
The second sentence, "I adore Beyonce," uses the word "adore," which means you love something. When we say, "I adore something," we can use it to talk about people, usually, people in our lives. Sometimes we use it to talk about our favorite activities as well, like, "I adore arts and crafts," perhaps. But when we use it to talk about people, it's usually for people that we have a close relationship to. Like a Beyonce super fan might say like, "I adore Beyonce. I just love her." That means that they feel like a close connection to that person or they really, really enjoy, in this case, the celebrity's work. To adore something can be used in that way. Also within families, like parents could say they adore their children. "To adore" means to love something and have a very close connection, or you feel like you have a close connection with someone.
Then the final example sentence was, "I idolize Beyonce." "I idolize, to idolize," that verb has the word "idol" inside. "Idol" actually has like a religious kind of connection. An idol was something to be worshiped, like a god or a goddess figure sort of thing. "To idolize something" means to kind of have that thing as like above you. You have this image, in this case, like Beyonce. "I idolize Beyonce." That means she's like above everything. We really appreciate her. We think she's just amazing and she's above everybody else. To idolize someone has almost like this image of worshiping someone. Maybe like a super, super, super Beyonce fan could say like, "I idolize Beyonce. I want to be like her. I want to do everything a fan can do." Maybe that's "idolize" in this case. Probably, the most common words here are "admire" and "adore." "Idolize" is not used nearly as much as these two, but that's the difference between those words. I hope that that helps you understand. Thanks very much for the 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.