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Lesson Transcript

Okay. Hi, everybody! Welcome back to Know Your Verbs.
My name is Alisha, and in this lesson, we're going to talk about the verb, "jam."
Let's get started!
Let's start with the basic definition of this verb.
The basic definition of "jam" is "to cause something to be blocked."
To cause something to be blocked
"I jammed the printer somehow."
"We jammed the shredder with paper."
Now, let's look at the conjugations for this verb:
Present: jam, jams
Past: jammed
Past Participle: jammed
Progressive: jamming
Now, let's talk about some additional meanings for this verb. The first additional meaning is "to push or force something into a space.
"He jammed himself onto the packed train."
"The moving company is jamming boxes into trucks."
So, here were see examples of someone or something being pushed or forced into something. It's like something that's difficult to get into or maybe there's not enough space.
In the first example, we see he pushed himself into a packed train. That means that the train is full of people already, but he pushes himself, he jams himself in, forcefully pushing in order to get on the train.
In the second example sentence, we see it in reference to boxes.
"The moving company is jamming boxes into trucks," which means there is maybe not a lot of space in the truck. However, he needs...he or she, the moving person, needs to get these boxes in, so they're forcefully pushing. We use jam to talk about that, to describe that act.
All right Let's go on to the second additional meaning for this verb.
The second additional meaning is "to play music informally" or "to improvise music in a group."
"The group jams a few times a month."
"I think the neighbors are jamming again."
So, this use of "jam" refers to practicing music or playing music in a group of people.
So there's a group of people, usually different instruments and there's no song, specifically. There's no like goal, really. They're just making music together. So, you might have heard this called a "jam session," actually.
To me, it sounds a little strange to use the word "jam" if you, yourself, are not a musician, like it feels strange to me to say, they're jamming, because I'm not really the kind of person who uses that word, but it might sound more natural coming from a musician. So, if you're a musician and you like to improvise music with people, you might be able to use this word quite naturally to talk about your practice sessions. So, again, it's just practice. It's just kind of enjoying and feeling the music. It's not really playing with a goal in mind. You're improvising, improvising.
So, you can also use it in general, kind of to talk about other ways of enjoying music, like with dance or even just enjoying music and kind of moving your head a little bit too. We sometimes use the word "jam" to mean just like improvising and enjoying music in some way. So, that's another way kind of related to this meaning that we can sometimes use "jam."
The third additional meaning for this verb is "to cause a part of the body to be crushed or injured somehow,"usually crushed.
"My friend jammed his finger in a door a few years ago."
"I jammed my toe on my bed!"
Okay. So, "jammed" in these cases usually refers to some kind of like crushing motion or some like a hard impact, something like this.
So, in the first example sentence, "My friend jammed his finger in a door a few years ago," it means in the open door, so maybe there's the door and the space between the door and the wall, this person's finger went in between those two and the door closed. That's a perfect example of when we would use "jam." This actually happened to my friend, this is true, and his finger was jammed in the door. So this crushing motion, this crushing injury, we use "jam" to refer to that.
We can also use it to refer to other kind of similar small injuries, usually to like fingers and toes as in the second example sentence, "I jammed my toe on my bed!" That refers to like, against a hard object, you're walking, walking, walking...and you touched or you jammed your finger or you jammed your toe into an object like a table or a sofa or bed or something. It's quite painful and it feels like you just pushed it forcefully into that object. We can say "jammed."
Another verb we use in this case is "stabbed."
"Uh, I stabbed my toe."
But you can say "jammed" or "stabbed," depending on what you like. People use both.
Okay. Let's go on to the next additional meaning then.
The next additional meaning is "to interfere with a broadcast."
To interfere with a broadcast
Let's go to some example sentences:
"They're jamming our signal!"
"The signal from the satellite has been jammed."
So, this means that something or someone or some kind of like machine or data or something is blocking some signals. So this could be blocking like a wifi signal, like satellite, TV, radio signal. Something is causing the signal to be disrupted, the broadcast to be disrupted. There's some problem there. So we use the word "jam" to talk about this. You will see this a lot in like spy and police and suspense movies relating to technology, like you can jam your enemy signal and they can't get any communications out, for example. So, you block someone's communication or you block someone's ability to broadcast information. We use "jam" to refer to that.
Okay. Now, let's look at a variation for this verb.
This variation is "to jam (on) the brakes."
To jam (on) the brakes
It's quite specific. This expression means "to push quickly and with force on the brakes of a vehicle."
"He jammed on the brakes when the child stepped into the road."
"Don't jam the brakes!"
So, "to jam the breaks" or jamming the breaks is usually like a very quick and fast and very uncomfortable motion, very uncomfortable like results, actually. So you push the breaks and the car quickly comes to a stop or the car jerks very fast, so the people inside the car feel uncomfortable and it can be bad for the car's breaking system. Maybe, it can also, like damage items in the car, so it's considered, typically, to be not a good thing to do, so it's typically not recommended to jam the breaks.
You'll hear "jam the breaks" and also "jam on the breaks." Both of them are in use, so you can choose which you prefer. They have the same meaning.
Okay. So those are a few different ways that you can use the verb "jam." I hope that you found something new. Of course, if you have questions, comments, or other ways to use the word "jam," please let us know in the comment section of this video.
Thanks very much for watching this episode of Know Your Verbs and we'll see you again next time. Bye-bye!