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Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. Welcome back to Know Your Verbs. In this episode, we're going to talk about the verb, "serve." Let's get started.
So, let's start with the basic definition of this verb. The basic definition of "to serve" is to provide with a service especially food or drinks. Examples, "Breakfast is served at 8:00." "Have you been served dessert?"
Now, let's look at the conjugations of this verb. Present, "serve," "serves." Past, "served." Past participle, "served." Progressive, "serving."
Now, let's talk about some additional meanings for this verb in this lesson. The first additional meaning for this lesson is "to work for" or "to perform duties" especially for the military. Let's look at some examples. "She's served as a judge for 10 years." So, that's "she has." "She's served as a judge for 10 years." "He's serving two years in a military program."
In these examples, we're talking about some kind of duty. It's often like a public work, like a civic work. So, that means a government worker, military worker, maybe a police officer, we use "serve" because it has kind of the feeling of a social responsibility about it. There's some kind of community duty that you are performing. In these examples, I included sentences relating to judges and military workers. Like I said, you could use it for police so like, "He served as an officer for five years." For example, so this is some kind of community service worker. We use "serve" to talk about their work, often with a period of time.
The second additional meaning is "to help achieve something" or "to have a specific purpose." So, let's look at some examples. This one's kind of an abstract meaning. "Let this accident serve as a warning to you." "This success should serve as a reminder of what can happen when you work hard." In these cases, I've used the verb, "served" before, in the first example, "serve as a warning," and in the second example, "serve as a reminder." That means the subject of the sentence is acting--so the subject of the sentence has the purpose of being a warning or has the purpose of being a reminder for something else. In the first example, I said, "Let this accident serve as a warning," meaning the accident whatever it is, should act as a warning for the future. But, we use "serve" to mean act as something. In the second example sentence, we say the same thing. "This success should serve as a reminder." So, meaning, this success--something successful happen and that should act as a reminder of what can happen. Instead of saying, "act as" or "that should act as," we just use the verb, "serve." That means it has the purpose of being a reminder. This is quite a broad meaning but you can see how "serve" means have a purpose or help to achieve something.
Okay, let's go to the third meaning, the third additional meaning for this verb which is "to spend time in prison." We use the verb serve for this. Examples. "She served six months in prison for her crimes." "He's serving three years for breaking and entering." In these example sentences, we see the verb, "serve" used before a time period spent in prison. In the first example sentence, "She served six months," that means, she spent six months in prison for her crimes. So, instead of saying, "She spent blah, blah, blah amount of time in prison," we just say, "she served." That's much easier and quicker to say. In the second example sentence, it's the progressive form. "He's serving three years," which means he is now in prison, he's now spending time in prison for breaking and entering in this case. So, "for" shows the reason he's in prison. So, we can use "serve" to mean spend time in prison.
Okay. Let's go on to the fourth additional meaning for this verb today. So, the fourth additional meaning is "to start a game," especially a sports game of some kind with a ball or something similar, depending on what sport you're playing. Examples. "Serena Williams served the ball." "Hurry up and serve!" So, serving something, serving a ball, for example, is a very common way to begin a match of some kind. In tennis, one of the tennis players will serve the ball to start play. We see the same thing in volleyball as well. So, like we were practicing earlier, hitting the ball this way or this way to begin kind of that match, that individual play. So, any sport where one team has to initiate the match or initiate the play by striking the ball or striking some, you know, object like that, we can use the verb, "serve," it means to start play by hitting it at the other team usually. So, "to serve." Interesting.
So, let's continue on to some variations for this verb. The first variation is "to serve someone right." This is an expression that means for someone to get what they deserve and we often use this in negative situations. Like, someone who has done something bad deserves a negative consequence. Let's look at some examples. "He lost his job? Serves him right he stole from the company for years." "The president was impeached? Serves him right." You'll notice in both of these example sentences, I used, "Serves him right," in the present tense even though these are past tense situations. So, in the first example sentence, I said, "He lost his job?" A past tense expression. "He lost his job?" In the second sentence, "The president was impeached?" past tense as well. But, we're using, "Serves him right," in both cases to mean, right now in the present time, he is getting what he deserves. So, in the present, as he is in that moment, he deserves that consequence. So, we use the present tense to do that. You will hear this used in present tense, actually. Sometimes past tense as well but quite commonly in present tense. To mean, someone got a consequence that they deserved and it's often a negative one.
The next variation I want to talk about is the expression, "if memory serves me right." Here, actually, you'll see "serves" functions in the same way as we talked about earlier. "If memory serves me right," so meaning, if memory has a purpose that is correct. It's sort of a strange way to think of it. But, "if memory serves me right" means, if I remember correctly. "If I remember correctly thisโ€ฆ" So, in other words, "I think I remember it's this information," "I think it's this." So, if my memory is correct this. Examples of this. "If memory serves me right, this is the 27th episode of this series." "The BBQ starts at 5:00, if memory serves me right." So, there's a little bit of uncertainty there. We're not 100% sure that we correct but we're pretty close. So, "If memory serves me right," meaning, I think my memory is correct, I think it's this. So, you can use this if you're a little unsure. It's quite a long phrase but that's what it means.
So, those are a few new expressions or new ways to use the verb, "serve." I hope that you got something new from this lesson. Of course, if you have any questions, comments or if you'd like to try to make an example sentence, please feel free to do so in the comment section below this video.
Thanks very much for watching this episode of Know Your Verbs and we'll see you again next time. Bye-bye.
That was me serving a volleyball.
Oh, yeah.
Serve. This is the underhand serve. If you couldn't do that, you could do this. I like the sound of it.

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Can you make a sentence using the verb "Serve"?