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Better At English Podcast Analysis (5 Advanced Expressions)

Kevin Naglich
Founder, Deliberate English

Deliberate practice is all about paying closer attention to what you consume, analyzing it, and practicing what you learned. Let's do some together.

Read the quote from the Better @ English podcast below. In this segment, the podcast host, Lori, talks to her mother about what she did last weekend.

They got home around four o'clock yesterday afternoon, so that was nice and early. And then so Michelle and I were just visiting and, you know, talking, and we went downstairs and Aidan, Dave and Jackson were all in Michelle's bed… Michelle and Dave's bed, purportedly watching TV, but the only one with his eyes open was Aidan. Jackson and Dave were both quote "watching TV" unquote with their eyes shut. It was pretty funny.

Time to analyze what you read. 

First, did you notice how Lori's mother said, "They got home around 4 o'clock"? 

We can use the word get plus a place to mean "to arrive at a place."

For example, how would you use it here? 

I didn't get to work until 10am this morning.

Or here: 

I should be able to get there by this evening.

Or how about here?: 

Caitlin got to school just in time for the play to start. 

Notice that the preposition, or lack thereof, changes. 

We say "get home" and "get here/there" without any preposition, but we use the word "to" when specifying a specific place, other than "home," such as work, school, the store, the concert, his house, etc. 

By the way, if you want to talk about arriving at one place after leaving another using get, do you know how to structure that sentence? 

It'll be a long drive. I need to get from Chicago to St. Louis. 

Next, did you notice this part of the sentence?

They got home around four o'clock yesterday afternoon, so that was nice and early.

English speakers often informally use the expression nice and… + an adjective or adverb to say that something was pleasant, suitable, or a nice surprise.

How would you say that you were pleased by how easy something was? 

The project was nice and easy. 

What if you want to encourage someone to do something slowly because it is suitable for the current situation? For example, you are teaching someone how to drive, so it is suitable for them to go slow when they leave the garage. 

Good job. Just back up nice and slow.

Next, did you notice how she said:

Michelle and I were just visiting? 

Using "just" with an action is an extremely common way to emphasize that something is not a major event. 

In this case, it emphasizes that this was "simply" a visit and was done for fun. There might not have been a formal reason for visiting; it just happened by chance. 

For example, if your family is visiting for Christmas, you might say, "My family is here visiting for Christmas." Since we're specifying a formal reason, just doesn't really need to emphasize anything. 

On the other hand, if a friend decided to visit you because they happened to be nearby, what might you say? 

Why was Alice at your office today? She just stopped by for lunch. (Of course, stop by is a casual way of saying visited briefly and informally.) 

In the next sentence, we see,

[They] were all in Michelle's bed, purportedly watching TV, but the only one with his eyes open was Aidan. 

Based on the context, what do you think purportedly means in this sentence? 

Purportedly basically means the same thing as supposedly and means that somebody said something was true, but it was not proved to be real or true. 

How does it fit here? 

Kevin was supposedly studying, but it just looked like he was playing games. 

Finally, towards the end of the clip, we heard:

Jackson and Dave were both quote "watching TV" unquote with their eyes shut.

Quote unquote is pretty flexible, and we use it to reference a statement someone else made. That statement can either go in between quote and unquote or afterward. 

If we use it like Lori's mom, it indicates that you are repeating someone's words exactly. 

Jackson and Dave were both quote "watching TV" unquote with their eyes shut.

In other words, Jackson and Dave said they were sleeping, so Lori's mom repeated their exact words. 

How would you use it here? 

Mom said to quote, "be home by 10," unquote, but I think we can stay out a bit later. 

You can also use this expression to make it seem that you disagree with or disapprove of what someone said. 

Try it here:

People think that being quote-unquote popular is important, but it really doesn't matter. This means that "society" says that being popular is important, but you disagree.

Great job. In less than 10 minutes, you improved your English more than you would have by passively binging TV for two hours. To make sure you don't forget what you learned, try to actively use these expressions throughout the week. Check out my how to improve your vocab video to learn how. 

If you liked the Better @ English podcast, be sure to check them out on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.  

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