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Obs.: Só um aviso (just a heads up) – essa conversa foi gravada no Skype, e por isso infelizmente o volume da minha voz saiu um pouco mais baixo do que normalmente sai nos podcasts.
(Ana) Let’s go back to the questions.
(Steve) You bet!
So Wallace… Wallace asks about three possible translations of “assunto”, which are issue, matter and topic. And how would he know which one to use? I mean, how would you differentiate?
(Steve) Ok, now, it’s good. This is where, like, English teachers would say that you can break this down, you can categorize this into “register”. I like to call it levels of formality. So, really you could break it down, you could categorize it into levels of formality. So it depends on the context. Topic is more semi-formal or familiar, and… While the next one, matter, is a little more formal. And then issue (which is an American pronunciation – iSSue, which is British) would be the most formal of the three, so..
(Ana) Issue would be the most formal?
(Steve) Yeah. This is a very… So you would hear, you would hear that, like, you know, like maybe politicians saying “Well, this is a very pressing issue and we will try to resolve it as soon as possible”. “A pressing matter”, not too far off… And then “a pressing topic”, well…
(Ana) What would you say if, let’s say, we were discussing the agenda for a meeting. Which one would you use? Like, we have five possible, what? Topics, or issues…
(Steve) Yeah, I think I would say topic.
(Ana) OK. Alright, let’s take a look at another one. We have a question sent by Tiago. He asks about this or that. He says… well, he mentioned a podcast that I did a while ago and I talked about this expression “That ship has sailed”. You know, and he’s asking “Why isn’t it “this” ship has sailed?” And he mentions that he’s not talking only about this expression, but in general. Maybe that’s because it’s very common to teach that, you know, if you’re talking about something that is near you, you use ‘this’ and if it’s far from you, you use ‘that’… Why wouldn’t you say “This ship has sailed”?
(Steve) Exactly, so it’s a question of distance in terms of an objective sense, so ‘this’ would be closer to you and then, ‘that’ would be further away from you. So, I mean, yeah, if you said “that ship has sailed” and “this ship has sailed”… In a subjective sense, I guess you could use both and I guess that’s the question he’s asking.
Now, if you were referring to the… physically to the ship and you said “this ship has sailed”… It’s almost like you’re pointing to the picture. Like, you have, somehow you have a represantation of the ship close to you, so that you can exemplify it, so that you can show it. And the same thing “That ship has sailed”. So maybe the picture is further away from you on the wall and you’re saying “That ship has sailed”. I guess that would be one way.
(Ana) Yeah, this and that, I mean, the truth is, you cannot… How do you say this, “encaixar”? You can not fit…
(Ana) You cannot always fit that and this into those little book rules.
(Steve) Yeah, I think so too.
(Ana) Yeah, we say stuff like “Ok, that’s it for today”. Why did I say ‘that’ and not ‘this’? You know? But maybe “that ship has sailed” and “this ship has sailed”… Maybe if it’s something that, that’s happening in that moment…
(Ana) Maybe you would say “this ship has sailed”. Maybe if you’re referring to something, I don’t know… that happened a while ago, and you were still expecting some result from…
(Ana) You’d say, OK, that ship.
(Steve) On, like, an objective level definitely we can follow the rule of proximity. And then, as you said, sometimes we use it in a subjective sense, like “this is it”, “that’s it”. That’s a great idea, this is a great idea.
(Ana) Right, right.
(Steve) I’m sorry, but there’s really no grammar rule to that. You’re just gonna have to use what I call the “soundometer”. Like, you’re just gonna have to do what sounds right… you know. It’s like prepositions, like… is there a rule for prepositions?
(Ana) Yeah, people try to say that there are, but…
(Steve) Yeah, I tried that in a video, explaining that, and it works on a physical level.
(Ana) OK, let’s take a look at another one. Ailton sent a question about conditionals. He says “I really would like to hear more about conditionals, like “If I had something, I would have something else”. So, what would you like to say about that, Steve?
(Steve) OK, so I’m scrolling down to Ailton’s, well, maybe scrolling up… Oh yeah, I’ve got it here. A lot of my students, even my advanced students sometimes will get that mixed up, and… I think, you know, it’s really important to remember some kind of a basic structure. He’s asking about conditional 2, right? And it’s important to remember the basic structure for conditional 2, which is If + the simple past, which he has done, “If I had” – and then, the rest of the first sentence. So, for example, if I had a million reais, and then, comma (=vírgula) and ‘I would, could, might’.
You want to use some modal like ‘would’, ‘could’ or ‘might’ plus the simple form of the verb… I would buy… I don’t know, Ana – what would you buy with a million reais?
(Ana) A million reais? I would buy a sports car or a really big apartment by the beach.
(Steve) Oh, nice.
(Ana) Actually, I would travel around the world. That’s what I would do.
(Steve) Awesome, awesome. So, Ailton, you can see some great examples, some heartfelt examples here from Ana giving an example of conditional 2… which is your question on how to make a conditional 2.
I just released a video on that – I have to forward you the link ’cause I explain how to use conditional 2 like that. I think that probably people get confused, I think even Americans get confused with this. I’ve seen this happening too, where sometimes they will use the incorrect constructions for conditional clauses. I can imagine as a non-native speaker, you know… It’s like, who do you follow?
But that’s a good structure there for… My question to you is, what would you do if you saw a UFO flying over your house, Ailton? What would you do?
(Ana) Wow, I don’t know. What would you do, Steve?
(Steve) Oh, that’s a very good question. I think that I would ask them to identify themselves first.
(Ana) Oh, you mean if they had started a conversation.
(Ana) OK, that’s different. I thought you were saying, you know, if you only saw them flying.
(Steve) I’d grab a camera, I think.
(Ana) Would you ask them for a ride somewhere?
(Steve) Would I ask them for a ride somewhere… I think it would really depend (on) who they were. I don’t think I would just go with anybody.
(Ana) Right, right. If they were the extraterrestrials you’re used to talking (to), like, that you’re friends with, then you would go for a ride.
(Steve) Yeah, yeah.
(Ana) If they were complete strangers, then you would just say no, thanks.
(Steve) Oh, yeah, yeah. We learn that as children… Don’t talk to strangers.
(Ana) OK. If they were your friendly neighborhood extraterrestrials, then… OK.
(Steve) For sure! Take me to your Peppy Planet.
(Ana) That’s a good theme for future videos, Steve.
(Steve) Awesome. Parallel 2.
(Ana) OK. Danubia has a question. Another question about pronunciation. She’s asking “how do you pronounce a and an”. These are the indefinite articles.
(Steve) Yeah, that’s a good question. Now that you’re reading the question out loud it makes more sense to me, what she’s asking. ‘Cause I’ve had some students ask me this before, like… Sometimes people will say “ei”, sometimes people will say “a” particularly for that one. We use both. I think that… probably using “ei” sounds more posh, it sounds a little bit more academic, more formal.
But most people, like, you know… in a day-to-day conversation say “a”, you know, they just say “a”, right? Another thing that I wanted to mention is, you know, be careful of irregularities with indefinite articles. You know those exceptions that I’m sure you’ve… I think I’ve seen you post on your blog before – where you would have irregularities with the first letter of the noun, so… university. The predominant sound is actually the “n”, so therefore we say ‘a university’ ’cause it’s just impossible to say ‘an university’. Hour- the h is silent, so we say ‘an hour’. You can think of those exceptions too, in terms of articles pronunciation.
(Ana) Are you familiar with Eslpod, by Dr. Jeff McQuillan?
(Steve) No, I’m not.
(Ana) So, it’s a really popular website, the url is eslpod.com. I think it’s one of the most popular podcasts for English learners on the net. He’s been online for, maybe, four, five, six years. And I remember listening to one of his podcasts and someone sent a question (that) I think was similar to what Danubia was asking. He made a comment about how, sometimes, when someone wants to emphasize that, for example, they did not see THAT girl – they saw A girl. And they say “ei” to emphasize that they saw, you know… some girl. A girl. Not the girl you were thinking about, no. A girl.
(Steve) Yeah, definitely it’s more eloquent, it sounds nicer and… It’s a way to embellish. Yeah, definitely.
(Ana) Alright, let’s see what else we have… So Barbara sent a question: How can I say “os olhos da cara”?
(Steve) That would be like something… yeah, like, you could say, for example, in North America it’d be very common to say “My new car cost an arm and a leg”. Be careful that ‘cost’ is an irregular verb – cost, cost, cost – like in the present, past and past participle. Another one is that in the UK they would say “It costs the earth”. And that’s the way that…
(Steve) Yeah, that would be more what they would say in the UK. I’m sure they might say ‘it cost an arm and a leg’ as well, but… When something costs the earth, like, that’s not something we would use here in North America but it would be one… an equivalent that they would use in the United Kingdom. So you might say Janet Middleton (*note: her name is actually Kate), Prince William’s fiancee, has an engagement ring that must have cost the earth or it must have cost an arm and a leg… ’cause it was Princess Diana’s engagement ring. Full of diamonds and sapphire.
(Ana) Yeah, yeah, I saw a picture. So in both expressions we use body parts, right. They’re just different.
(Steve) That’s right, that’s right. Yeah. And that thing about costing the eyes of the face is used, like, in all the Romantic languages. It must have come, you know, from Latin or something, ’cause I know the Italians use it, the French, the Spanish use it.
(Ana) How about we talk about Caroline’s question: “What’s the meaning of spoiler and guilty pleasure?”
(Steve) OK, from what I gather from spoilers, spoiler could be something that spoils the surprise, that’s a real spoiler. It spoils the surprise, it spoils it for everybody.
Na parte 3, continuamos com a pergunta da Caroline, e mais. Em breve!
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