Hi everyone! My name’s Shane. In today’s English lesson, you are going to learn how to understand some basic sentence meanings in English. These are sentences which are commonly misunderstood and I often hear non-native speakers use these sentences incorrectly. Before we start the lesson today, have a look at the sentences over here. Do you understand them? If I asked you questions about them, could you explain the meaning?
Number one. I like chicken. Is this sentence correct? Yes it is. What does it mean? Does it mean that you like playing with chickens and patting them like you can see over here? No it doesn’t. If you say ‘I like chicken’, that means you like eating chicken. You are talking about the food. You are not talking about playing with chickens or watching chickens or patting chickens.
If you say ‘I like’ plus an animal with no S that means you are saying you like to eat the animal. You are talking about the food. For example if someone says ‘I like duck’, that means that person likes eating duck. They are talking about the food. So what does it mean if I say ‘I like chickens’ with an S? Well, look down here and let’s find out!
Number two. I like chickens. Those chickens just keep coming back, don’t they? So what is the difference between ‘I like chicken’ and ‘I like chickens’? What do you think? Well ‘I like chickens’ with an S is not talking about the food. ‘I like chickens’ means you like the animal. Maybe you like playing with them. Maybe you like watching them. Maybe you like patting them.
When we say ‘I like’ plus an animal plus an S that means you like the animal. Maybe you like playing with the animal but you are not talking about the food. For example, if you say ‘I like cats’, that means you like playing with cats. Maybe you have a cat in your home as a pet but it does not mean you like eating cats.
Number three. He would have gone to the party but he was sick. Imagine this. It’s Saturday evening and my friend is getting ready to go to a party. He is drinking a lot of alcohol and at 9pm he starts to feel sick and he passes out. So we can say here ‘He would have gone to the party but he was sick.’
What am I talking about here? Past, present or future? The past. Did he go to the party? No. Did he want to go to the party? Yes he did but something stopped him from going. He was drunk and he passed out.
So this is the main meaning of ‘would have’. ‘Would have’ means that something didn’t happen in the past but the person was willing or wanted to do that thing but maybe something stopped them. So if you say to me ‘Shane I would have studied English last night but I didn’t have time’, that means you didn’t study English in the past but you wanted to or you were willing to and if you said that to me, I would say ‘I’m very disappointed.’
Number four. Eat this. Eat this. Let’s pretend you make some food for your friend. You put the food on the table. You say to your friend ‘Eat this!’
If you say ‘Eat this’ to your friend are you talking about yourself? No. If you say ‘Eat this’ to your friend do you want your friend to do something? Yes you do. You want your friend to eat your food.
Now normally when we start a sentence with a verb, it’s a command. It’s an order. We want someone to do something. These types of sentences are called ‘imperatives’. For example, close the door. Open the book. Stand up. Look at the mini review!
Okay let’s do a quick review of the first four sentences. Number one. I like chicken. This means you like eating the animal.
I like chickens. This means you like the animal. Maybe you like playing with the animal. Maybe you like watching the animal but it is not talking about eating the animal.
Number three. I would have gone to the party. This means you didn’t do something in the past but you wanted to do it or you were willing to do it.
And number four. Eat this. This is a command so if you say this to someone, you want someone to do something.
Number five. I should have helped my friend yesterday. Imagine this. My friend is moving heavy boxes and I am lying on a beach chair just relaxing. It’s hot! It’s sweaty! He is working really hard but I am just so comfortable that I don’t want to get up.
I should have helped my friend. Did I help him? No. Do I wish that I did help him? Yes I do. So this is the main meaning of ‘should have’. It means that something didn’t happen in the past but we wish that it did happen. We wish that we could change the past and make that thing happen.
Another example. I should have been more careful. Was I careful? No but I wish that in the past I was more careful. I wish that I could change it because maybe something bad happened to me like I went to hospital.
Number six. The man has been hospitalized. The man has been hospitalized. What am I talking about here? Past, present or future? In the past. It’s something that has already happened. Is the man in hospital now? Yes he is. Is he injured or is he sick? Yes he is.
So this is the meaning of somebody has been hospitalized. It means they have been taken to hospital normally because they are sick or they are injured. Another sentence like this is ‘He has been institutionalized.’ This means he has been put into an institution. An institution is a place like a hospital where they look after you and take care of you.
Number seven. I could have cooked dinner last night. Imagine this. Last night I was in the kitchen getting dinner ready. I was just about to put dinner in the oven and the oven exploded! I had a small oven but after the first oven exploded, I was too scared to use the small oven. I could have cooked dinner last night.
What are we talking about here? Past, present or future? The past. Did I cook dinner? No. Was it possible for me to cook dinner? Yes. My big oven exploded. Yes that’s true but it was possible for me to use the other oven that I had but I didn’t use it.
Another example could be ‘You could have gone to the beach yesterday but the weather wasn’t hot enough.’ This means it was possible but you didn’t do it.
Now you understand English more like a native speaker. Now I have a challenge for you. In the comments below, I want you to write a little story with some of the sentence structures that you learned about today. I can’t wait to read your little stories and I will see you in the next video.