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Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. Welcome back to "Know Your Verbs." My name is Alisha. And, in this episode, we're going to talk about the verb "back." Let's get started.
Let's begin with the basic definition of the verb "back." The basic definition is to support something or someone with words or with resources. Examples, "We're backing the new president with a big donation,” "The horse I backed lost the race." Now, let's look at the conjugations for this verb. Present, back, backs. Past, backed. Past participle, backed, Progressive, backing.
Now, let's talk about some additional meanings for this verb. The first additional meaning is to cause to move backward. Examples, "He backed the car into the space," "Let's back out of the room."
So, this use of "back" often takes a preposition like in, or on, or out, out of, into. So, we see a few different prepositions that can be used with this. And, the preposition shows us the direction of the backing motion. So, like "to back into" something, means the rear of something enters that space or that room first. The opposite, "to back out of" something, refers to leaving a space by moving in a backward motion. So, "to back in," "to back out," "to back onto" refers to moving in reverse on top of something. So, think of "back," plus the preposition as showing you the way that the backward motion is moving, or like the relationship of the backward motion to another space or to another object.
So, the first example sentence, "He backed the car into the space," shows us that he, in the situation, moved a car into a parking space, but did it backwards. Meaning the rear of the car moved into the space first. He didn't move the car into the space with the front of the car going first. It was the back of the car. So, we use "back," the verb "back" to explain this motion. In the second example sentence, "Let's back out of the room," it refers to us, like people, in this case moving away from a room, moving out of a room. But, we're going with our backs to the exit here. So, we're not facing the exit and moving to the exit, we are backing. Like, "backing out," meaning like we're using our bodies and the backs of our bodies are moving in the direction we're traveling. So, we use "to back," to refer to this back-facing motion.
The second additional meaning is to use for the rear part of something. Examples, "We backed the studio walls with sound-dampening material," "His coat is backed with a soft lining." These examples show us that there's something being used on the rear part of something. So, this tends to be used for like construction or for talking about like something you put together. Like, in this case, we have walls or we have clothing, for example. You might hear this like for buildings, things that you're making or assembling. So, the first example shows us the walls were backed with a sound-dampening material. That means sound-dampening material was attached to the rear of the wall. So, something behind the wall, they were backed with that. Like, we have in here.
Is this backed with sound-dampening material? This is sound-dampening material. Is that the same as this? So, like this is behind this wall. So, this is sound-dampening material that we don't really use anymore. But, we could back a wall with this. This already has sound dampening material? So, if you need extra sound-dampening material, back a wall with this. What would happen if I talk like this? That's a bonus in this episode of "Know your Verbs." A lesson in sound. Hooray! Sound backing material which we need. So, we back the studio walls with sound-dampening material.
In the second example sentence, "His coat is backed with a soft lining." It means the inside of the coat. So, like you can think of like rear of a coat, kind of -- not like the the part behind you when you're wearing the coat, but like the inside, the reverse side of the coat. The part we don't see. So, that part has a soft lining. So, the coat is backed with a soft lining. That means there's a soft material on the reverse side.
Okay. Let's move along to the next additional meaning for the verb "back." The next additional meaning is to have the rear part of a location facing something else. Examples" "The resort backs the beach," "Their cabin backs the forest." So, with this use of "back," we have two locations. So, in these example sentences, it's a house or a cabin, or some kind of building. And then, the back of that building looks over, or the back of that building faces a different kind of place. So, in the first example sentence, "Their house backs the beach." It means the house is positioned so the back of the house, the rear of the house, faces a beach. In the second example sentence, about a cabin. So, someone's cabin, again, backs the forest. So, that means the rear side of the cabin faces the forest. You might hear prepositions, like "backs onto," with this one as well. But, "to back" a location means the rear side of something faces something else.
Let's move along to some variations with this verb. The first variation is "to back off," to back off. "To back off" means like to relieve aggression or to relieve tension. Like, to kind of step away from a situation, to walk away. So, like to decrease the level of kind of angry enthusiasm. Examples, "Tell that guy to back off," "Back off of my project! I'm still working on it." So, "back off" is kind of like relax or just go away for a minute, stop putting so much pressure on the situation. In the first example sentence, "Tell that guy to back off," it means tell that guy over there, like stop being so upset, or stop being so angry, or you don't need to be so aggressive. Like, there's a lot of tension or pressure in the situation, it's not necessary. So, we would use this kind of expression usually when someone is angry and aggressively approaching someone else. "Tell that guy to back off." So, someone's temper is kind of high perhaps.
In the second example sentence, it's a pressure situation. "Back off of my project! I'm still working on it." So, that means someone is applying lots of pressure. Like, maybe lots of criticism or sharing a lot of opinions. And, the person who made the project is saying, "Back off!" Like, I need you to not put so much pressure on me. Like, walk away please because I'm still working on this. So, this is an expression that's used to mean stop putting so much pressure or aggression in my direction.
Okay. The second variation for this verb is "to back someone up," to back someone up. "To back someone up" means to support someone verbally. Examples, "My boss backed me up at the meeting," "Will you back me up if I make a complaint?" So, "to back someone up" is like to agree with someone, or to show your support for someone. Usually, because they're sharing an opinion, they're sharing a story, and you want to show your support for that person. So, you agree with them, or you give more evidence to support their story, or you share something to help their story be more persuasive. So, "to back someone up" means like to show support for someone, usually with your words. So, verbally. "To back someone up" doesn't necessarily mean like with money. Like, we saw with the original use of "to back," like to back someone financially. But, "to back someone up" refers to a verbal support for that person. Keep in mind though, "to back up," like or "to be a backup" is different from backing someone up. So, "to back someone up" is different from "to be a backup." Please be careful. "To be a backup" means to be a substitute in case something happens. But, "to back someone up" means to support them, to show verbal support for a person. So, please be careful of those two quite different expressions.
Okay. So, those are a few new ways I hope for you to use the verb "back." If you have any questions, or comments, or want to practice making a sentence with this verb, please feel free to do so in the comment section of this video. Thanks very much for watching this episode of "Know your Verbs," and we'll see you again soon. Bye.