Unit 16

Question 1 : Could you explain the uses of the word ‘get’ in one of your lessons?
Question 2:
Differences between Practice & Practise?
Question 3: What are the differences between ‘which’ & ‘what’?
Question 4:
How do we express dates in English? Are there any variations?

Unit 16



Hi everybody, this is Misterduncan in England, how are you today? Are you okay? I hope so! Are you happy? I hope so!
So here we are again at the start of a new month, which just so happens to include my birthday.   How old will I be this year? It’s not a secret, but I’m still not telling you!    It’s time to take a look at some more of your e-mail questions and comments concerning the English language.    So without any more playing for time, let’s take a look at our first question for today!

Could you explain the uses of the word ‘get’ in one of your lessons?

This question was sent in by Alessandro and Pasquale, who both happen to live in Italy. The word ‘get’ is most commonly used as a verb, but its usage can vary quite a lot. It can mean ‘fetch’, to collect something. ‘I’m going to get some water’ It can mean ‘climb’ ‘get up a ladder.’ It can mean jump over or move across. ‘Get over the gap.’ ‘Get across the lake.’

It can be used to show an improvement or as an alternative to ‘become’ ‘Get better’  ‘get well’ ‘get stronger’  It can mean ‘reply’ or ‘respond’. ‘Get back to me soon with your idea.’  It can show a change of position. ‘Get out of bed’ ‘Get up from the floor’. It can be used to express understanding, such as the grasp of an idea. ‘Do you get my meaning?’ ‘Oh I get it now!’

In anger it can be used to order a person to leave or move away.
‘Get out of my house!’
‘Get away from me you horrible man!’
Thanks for the question and a big ‘salve’ to everyone watching in Italy!

Practice & Practise

During last week edition of ‘Ask Misterduncan’, I mentioned some of the various gerunds and infinites which exist. During this particular segment I used the word ‘practice’ as a verb.

A few of you have written to ask if this is correct. Well in some cases the word ‘practice’ spelt with a ‘c’ can be used as a verb, such as in American English.   When this word is spelt with an ‘s’ in British English, it is used as a verb only.
So ‘practising English’ is the British English verb form. While ‘practicing English’ is the American English variation. The noun ‘practice’ with a ‘c’ is used in British English. So American English uses ‘practice’ with a ‘c’ as both a noun and a verb.

What are the differences between ‘which’ & ‘what’?

Well Mrs Cow, I’m not going to get much milk off you, am I?

This question was sent in  by Linh Vy Nguyen, who lives in Vietnam. The word ‘what’ and ‘which’ are both pronouns and can be used interrogatively. This is a way of asking a question. The main differences is that one is used in reference to time or an action and the other is used when asking about an object or when offering a choice.

‘what time?’ ‘What day?’ ‘What name?’ ‘What are you thinking?’
‘What would you like?’ ‘What do you think of my new car?’
‘which colour do you prefer?’ ‘Which road should we take?’
‘which house is yours?’ 
When using ‘what’ we are usually unsure of the specifics and details.
It can be a very general question, such as – ‘What are you doing?’
The reply could be anything. I could be doing anything.

The word ‘which’ is normally more exact. We offer a choice and you must choose which one.

A nice message!

I have received a nice message on my YouTube account from Aiman Al Hashimee,who lives in Baqhdad- Iraq. I was deeply moved by your words and I would like to send a special hello to you and all of your friends who are following my lessons over there.

Whatever your views about what is happening in Iraq right now, I think it is important to remember that there are people there who are going about their daily lives, just as we all are. They have the same worries, the same fears, and the same aspirations.   Languages and flags are a double edged sword. They define nations and create identity, but they also allow us to hold onto the divisions too.   From my experience I have witnessed English as a positive thing.  

Not as something that is being enforced on others. I see it as a gateway. It represents an opportunity for people from all corners of the world to communicate, share ideas and most importantly of all, understand each other. We are all individuals and it is unlikely that we will ever agree on everything, but surely it is better to talk and disagree on a few things, rather than create language barriers and be completely misunderstood. I like to think that English can break down these walls and that someday we can all live and let live. Thank you Aiman for your message and a big hello to those watching in Iraq.

How do we express dates in English? Are there any variations?

This interesting question was sent in by Sansay, who comes from Laos, but at the moment is studying in Thailand. When reading numbers, there are certain rules which must be obeyed.   Especially where there are many zeros. A good example is the beginning of the last century. We normally read this as the year 1900 (Nineteen Hundred). After that we will normally say ninety oh one- 1901…
This continues up until 1999 (Nineteen Ninety Nine), after that we say 2000 (Two Thousand). Then two thousand and one- 2001-2002-2003, until we reach 2009. After that we have a choice. We can either say 2010, which may be written as two thousand and ten, or we can simply say 2010 (Twenty-Ten).

Here in the UK, we are now talking about the ‘2012- two thousand and twelve Olympic Games’, but most people will refer to it as the ‘2012 twenty- twelve Olympics’.

One of the most confusing parts of expressing numbers is when we are mentioning a date that include a day of the week, month and year. In written English we tend to put an emphasis on the day, followed by the month. For example, the twelfth of August occurring this year would be written like this. 12th August 2010 or like this 12 August 2010.

It would be spoken as the twelfth of August two thousand and ten.
We can also write it like this 12/08/10. The day, then the month, then the year. In some other countries the order is different. The month comes first, then the day and finally the year. So it would read like this. 08/12/10. Thank you for your question Sansay and a big hello to everyone watching in Laos.

Some more body part idioms!
This part of the body is called the shoulder and there are some idioms and phrases that exist in English using this particular body part ‘Give someone the cold shoulder’ to ignore someone or exclude them from your life.

‘Shoulder the responsibility’ ‘shoulder the blame’ to take responsibility for an action. You take the blame for it. ‘Have a chip on your shoulder’ to carry resentment and direct blame towards one person or a group of people. ‘A shoulder to cry on’ A person who will offer you support during bad times. They will support you with a shoulder to cry on.

Is it better to watch English movies with the subtitles in English or in our native language?

This question comes from Mahmoud Riyadh, who lives in Egypt. The answer to this question is both. These days many DVD’s are produced for a world market and because of this the subtitles are often available in many languages on one disc. So I would encourage you to view the material with the subtitles in your native language first and make notes, if needed, of certain words. Then watch the movie again, this time with the subtitles in English. This will allow you to compare the words you are interested in or unsure of. This exercise will allow you to learn new words while at the same time become accustomed to the faster delivery of speech.

You can also watch movies spoken in your native language with English subtitles. These exercises will allow you to build up your word power and improve your listening skills at the same time.

Before I zoom off for another week,I would like to say a special hello to some of my new Facebook friends, including Jeo Huang, Adam Vicky, Tan Le, Raad Yousif, and Cristine de la Mora. Hello also to Davide in Italy and a big warm welcome to all those who have subscribed to me during the past week living in Taiwan.

Hello to you all. That is all from me for this week. I will see you all again soon for some more of your questions and comments. Keep sending in those e-mail, next time I could be saying hello to you. This is Misterduncan in England saying, thank you for asking me and of course ta-ta for now.

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