Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! Welcome back to Ask Alisha, the weekly series where you ask me questions and I answer them, maybe!
First question this week comes from Nagarjuna. Hi, Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna says, "What is the difference between 'being' and 'having?'" Okay, let's start with the word "having." We use the word having in set expressions that use the verb, "have." For example, "I'm having a good time," or "I'm having trouble with this." "He's having a shower at the moment. Can I call you back?" Okay, so, then, "being" has a lot more uses than "having." We use "being" to talk about temporary conditions. We can use this before adjectives. Keep in mind that when we use "being" before adjectives, we're using it to describe something that's temporary. In cases where we use the same adjectives without "being," it's describing something that is a regular condition. So, let's compare these two sentences. "He's weird." "He's being weird." The first sentence, "He's weird," is a simple present tense sentence, there's no "being" here. That shows us that weird is a regular condition so he's usually weird, he's always weird. The second sentence though, "He's being weird," uses "being" in the progressive tense. So, that shows that it's a temporary condition. It means, at this moment, he's weird, only this moment. So, usually, he's not weird; but for right now, he is. So, when you see "being" used before adjectives in this way, it's referring to this temporary state or this temporary condition. So, we can use "being" before a noun as well. But we use it to talk about an ongoing condition such as our job. We want to talk about like the state of being something. That's like always like the same for us. That's usually our job or something that's unchanging, that's a regular condition for us. So, we can make sentences that have the same meaning that just use "be" in different ways. For example, "Is being an artist difficult?" and "Is it difficult to be an artist?" Both of these sentences use the verb, "to be." The first one that uses "being" just refers to the ongoing condition of an artist. So, "Is it difficult to be an artist?" and "Is being an artist difficult?" Those have the same meaning, they're just slightly different grammatical structures.
We can also use "being" before verbs. When we do this, we tend to use it in passive voice and we use verbs in the past participle form. When we do this in present tense, it's referring to an action that is ongoing now. When we're talking about past tense situation, it's referring to an action that was continuing in the past, so an unfinished action in the past. Sometimes, there will be an interruption that we can see in the sentence later in the sentence. But, in some cases, it's just referring to an unfinished action. For example, present tense, "We are being watched." "My lunch is being eaten by someone else." So, these show ongoing unfinished actions that maybe we can see or we know about but they're continuing so we can use "being" to talk about those. So, we use "have" or "having" in the progressive form in set expressions that use "have." 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 faisalalseyed. Hi, faisal. faisal said, "How can I talk very quickly in English?" Don't worry so much about speaking quickly or like as fast as you possibly can. Everybody speaks at a pace that's natural and comfortable for them. But, if you want to work on improving the smoothness of your speech, something that you might try is just reading texts out loud. So, something that you can do to practice is find like an interesting news article or maybe a blog or even short story to read, something that's got a little bit of length to it. You don't want to read just tweets but something that you can read that you can follow along with. Practice reading this out loud so don't just read in your mind, practice saying the words and connecting the words to one another. So, you can do this first slowly, that's fine. It's fine to read slowly at first. But then, come back to the same article, practice reading that again like late later in the week or couple of days later and practice making the sounds a little bit faster. So, do this a couple times until you're comfortable with the grammar points, until you're comfortable with the vocabulary words. And then, when you're fine, you can move on to another article, challenge yourself with another article that uses different grammar points, different words and so on.
Something that I find interesting and fun, kind of, to do when I practice this way is to try to take recordings of myself. So, maybe, on one day, I'll practice for like an hour or study for an hour or something. And, at the end of my practice session, I will record myself and then I can listen to or watch the recording later and see maybe what parts weren't so good or what parts I was good at. Then, at my next practice session I can do the same thing and compare it to my first practice session. After a few weeks of this, then I can look back at my first practice session, compare it to my last practice session and see how much I've improved. So, this is a really good way, at least I found, to kind of track progress. So, this is something that could maybe help you as you try to improve your rate of speech. Again, don't worry so much to about speaking super fast, it's going to sound unnatural if you're just pushing yourself to speak super quickly all the time. Just try to find a comfortable pace that allows you to communicate clearly and smoothly. So, 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 Yousouf. Hi, Yousouf. Yousouf says, "How can I politely ask my teacher if it's okay to exit the classroom?" If you would like to leave your classroom. You can say something like, "May I leave the room?" or "Can I leave the room?" So, some people are really strict about the difference between "may" and "can." Historically, "may" has been used to ask for permission, "can" has been used to talk about possibility or ability, rather. So, if you want to be super strict, "may" is better. But, "may" could sound a little bit more polite. So, "May I leave the room?" is ok. It's probably a good idea to include the reason you would like to leave the room. For example, "May I go to the restroom?" or "May I go to the office?" or "May I go to the health center. I don't feel well." So, if you want to include a reason, you can do that. "May I go to some place?" So, this is how you would politely ask your teacher if it's okay to exit the classroom. I hope that this helps you. Thanks very much for the question. Let's move on to your next question.
Next question is from Artemium. Hi, Artemium. Artemium says, "Hi, Alisha. Is it required to put the indefinite article in front of an adjective that follows an uncountable noun? For example, 'hot milk' or 'neat writing' or 'good education.' Thanks." Aha. No! In most cases, actually, using the indefinite article in this way would be incorrect. To refresh everybody, the indefinite article is "a" or "an" and we use indefinite articles before countable nouns in the singular form. But, I do want to talk a bit about these examples that you've introduced.
The first example that you introduced was the phrase, "hot milk." So, the only way that I can think of that we would use an indefinite article before an expression like this is if "hot milk" is a menu item. You go to a restaurant or coffee shop and "hot milk" is on the menu. And, when you order you say, "A hot milk, please," or "One hot milk, please." In that case, it's okay. The reason for this is because "hot milk" as a set phrase is understood as one unit. So, even though milk is an uncountable noun, yes, we understand "hot milk" is like one mug or is one cup of something like that's one item I can order. In that case, using the indefinite article is okay, it's natural. It's much better in fact than saying, "Can I have some hot milk?" Which sounds very weird there. In that case, when we're ordering something, we understand hot milk to be one unit. One cup, one glass. In that case fine no problem.
So, another example of this might be it like a bakery. If you go to the bakery and you'd say, "I'd like a sour dough bread, please." So, in that case, "sourdough bread" is understood to be one unit, one type of bread, a menu item. In that case, fine, no problem. Your second example was about the expression, "neat writing." So, this is one that I would not use an article before. I would say in some very rare, very uncommon cases especially in like formal or maybe religious texts, some people would use the word writing to refer to like a script to refer to a text. Using "writing" in this way to refer just to written text sounds quite formal. So, in today's English, we would probably just say, "a neat piece of writing." We would not use the indefinite article, in this case. Finally, then, your last example was the expression, "good education." So, the reason that this one is a little bit tricky is because we have an idiomatic expression to get an education. "To get an education" means to receive education. But, in this idiom, we use the article, we use the indefinite article and before "education." So, because this is an idiomatic expression, it's a set expression, we preserve that indefinite article and just move it in front of "good." So, in your example, "good education," we could say, "to get a good education." That would be fine. In that case, because it's an idiom and because it uses an indefinite article originally, we keep it there. Some examples that use this idiom. "She got a good education at her university," "It's important that you get a good education." Okay, so, in some, if you're looking at adjective uncountable noun phrases that are understood as a unit, it's okay to use an indefinite article and it's okay to use an indefinite article when the uncountable noun is part of an idiom. So, I hope that this helps answer your question. Thanks very much. Okay, let's move on to your next question.
Next question comes from Takuji Sasamoto. Hi, Takuji. Takuji says, "Hi, Alisha. Please teach me how to use "you know" in conversation." Okay. Depending on the positioning in the sentence and how we feel when we say it, meaning how our voice feels when we say it, it can have slightly different meanings. When we position "you know" at the beginning of a sentence, it feels a little bit like "by the way." So, for example, "You know, there's a three-day weekend coming up," or "You know, I have a big bonus coming in this summer." So, in these sentences, it means like "by the way" and from the tone of my voice it's like there's something exciting, there's some exciting new information I want to share there, "You know." If we position "you know" at the end of a sentence it tends to sound like a question and we use it to like get agreement from people around us. So, we're talking about a difficult situation and we're trying to get agreement from the people around us. For example, "I don't want to upset my parents, you know," or "I'm just not ready to move to a new city, you know." So, in those cases, we use "you know" to get listener agreement. So, we're saying "you know" as like a short version of "Don't you know what I mean?" or "Do you understand what I mean?" So, you can think of "you know" used in that way with that upward intonation to be looking for confirmation. That's actually a pretty good rule. If you hear "you know" used with that upward question intonation, it's probably a good hint that that's looking for agreement. The speaker is looking for agreement. If you hear it with that downward intonation, "you know," it's probably sharing some new information, that "by the way" feel. So, I hope that this helps you. Thanks very much for the question.
Okay, so, that's everything that I have for this week. Thank you as always for sending your questions. Remember, you can send your questions 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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