Conditionals and modals

One last thing about conditionals. Sometimes the 1st, 2nd and 3rd conditionals are given nicknames:

1st conditional “If… will…” : “If you grow taller you will be a model.”




2nd conditional “If… would” : “If you were taller you would be a model!”

3rd conditional “If… would have” : “If you had been taller you would have been a model!”


If those nicknames help you remember that’s great. But you don’t have to use will/would/would have in those main clauses. You can use any modal, such as can/ could / could have, may/ might/ might have, won’t/ wouldn’t/ wouldn’t have etc…




I’ll briefly talk about the differences in those main modals:

“If you were taller you would be a model” the speaker thinks this is very likely. Close to 100% chance.

“If you were taller you wouldn’t be a model” the speaker thinks this is very unlikely. Close to 0% chance

“If you were taller you might be a model” the speaker thinks it could happen, but the chance is not very high or low. Around 50% chance, but could be higher or lower.




“If you were taller you could be a model” the speaker thinks this is possible. That’s all. They are not commenting on the chance or likelihood at all.

“Even if you were taller you couldn’t be a model” again, there is no need to think about probability, the speaker thinks it is impossible.

Nagging, nitpicking and scolding

Some English learners have questions about trying to use the word 잔소리 in English. There is no direct translation so most dictionaries give you the three words: nag, nitpick and scold. But we have to use these in different situations.



“Nag” is when someone (usually a spouse, parent or friend) complains often about something that you don’t think is worth complaining about. “My wife nags me for drinking too much” implies she is doing the wrong thing and the drinking isn’t a problem. “My mom nags me for not taking out the garbage.” “My friends nag me for not hanging out with them.” The complaint has to be repeated, annoying and trivial to you. Unfortunately this is more often used with females, the stereotype being a “nagging wife.”



“Nitpick” is to complain about small details, little things that aren’t important. “My friend always nitpicks about pizza toppings.” “My coworker nitpicks so much about the format of the report that we can’t even get it started.” Nitpick is less confrontational than nagging, and doesn’t imply any relationship between the complainer and the person listening.

Nagging is about a person’s faults, nitpicking is usually not directed at a person.



Scolding is different from the other ones. Scolding is complaining to someone about their actions or behaviors- but in this case the person being scolded definitely did something wrong.

Nagging and nitpicking are thought of as annoying and useless complaints, scolding is justified.

Relaxed Pronunciation 2

Here are some more examples of relaxed pronunciation in spoken English (I pulled these examples off of wikipedia if you want to check there for more info.

It would
It would be wonderful if you could come to my party.

Ittid [ˈɪɾəd](never written)
Ittid be wonderful if you could come to my party.”


A lot of
A lot of people will be there.”

A lotta
“A lotta people will be there.”

“A lotta people will be there.”

Kind of
“It’s kind of a big deal.”

“It’s kinda a big deal.”

Out of
“Anyway, you should get out of the house more.”

“Anyway, you should get outta the house more.”

“Anyway, you should get outta the house more.”

Sort of
“People think you’re some sort of hermit.”

“People think you’re some sorta hermit.”

Going to
“There’s going to be cake.”

“There’s gonna be cake.”

Got to
“It’s red velvet, you’ve got to try it.”

“It’s red velvet, you gotta try it.”

“There’s gonna be cake. It’s red velvet, you gotta try it.”

Have to/ Want to
“You don’t have to come if you don’t want to.

Hafta/ Wanna
“You don’t hafta come if you don’t wanna.”


Many English tests will have “how often…” questions like “How often do you go shopping?” or “How often do you go to the hair salon?”

Personally I go shopping about once a week. I go to the hair salon about once every two months.


When we are talking about a period of time that is singular (a minute, a day, an hour , a week, a month, a year…) we just use a number (once, twice, three times, four times…) and “a/an


“I shave once a week.”

“I check my Facebook twice an hour.”

“I check my Facebook twice an hour.”



When we are talking about a period of time that is plural (five minutes, two days, six weeks etc...) we use a number and “every


“Babies eat once every three hours.”

“We start a new project at work once every six weeks.”

“We start a new project at work once every six weeks.”

Sometimes you can answer a frequency question without a set time, but rather a condition. For this it is common to use “When” or “Whenever”

“I go shopping when I run out of food.

“I go to the hair salon whenever my roots start to show.” (here they are talking about the roots of their hair, that show the natural color).

“I go shopping when I run out of food.”

Relaxed Pronunciation Part 1 “Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda”

As I mentioned in another recording unstressed vowels in English sometimes end up with the schwa “[ə]” sound. This can lead to the written forms and spoken forms seeming very different. I’ll show you some written forms (which you could use in speaking if you want to emphasize every syllable) and spoken forms (which can be used in chatting or texting).

Should have

“You should have studied harder for the test.”


“You shoulda studied harder for the test.”




Could have

“I could have been a doctor if I wasn’t afraid of blood”


“I coulda been a doctor I wasn’t afraid of blood”


Would have

“I would have invited you if I knew you were in town.”


“I woulda invited you if I knew you were in town.”



Note: even many native speakers get confused with the written forms of these ones. The contracted forms “Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve” are often misspelled as “Should of, could of, would of”. If you see this, it is wrong.

Funny vs. Funny


“I like your sister, she’s really funny.


“Your sister seems a little funny.

On the surface these two sentences may seem to have similar meanings. You will notice a difference in tone (the word stress in the sentence) however. “Funny” can mean “comical or humorous, able to make someone laugh” or it can mean “strange, weird, off-putting.”

This second definition is less common, it is used when you are not 100% sure if there is a problem with a person, thing or situation – but you get a feeling something is wrong.

“I’ve got a funny feeling about this.”

“I’ve got a funny feeling about this.” Is a common phrase to hear someone say in a horror movie as they enter a scary situation.

“My science teacher seems funny. Not funny ‘ha,ha’ , funny ‘weird’.”

“My science teacher seems funny. Not funny ‘ha,ha’ , funny ‘weird’.” Is the way you might describe someone that seems strange or unusual. The “Not funny ‘ha,ha’ , funny ‘weird’” part is sometimes added for clarification.

“My shoulder has felt funny since the baseball game last week,”

“My shoulder has felt funny since the baseball game last week,” would be a way to say that there is a little pain, or an unusual feeling in the shoulder.

It’s important to note that most things that are comical or humorous are also “funny” and enjoyable because they are strange or unexpected. So the definitions are actually related.

The best way to tell the difference is just by context and tone.

Idiom: Out of the Blue



“A stranger just came up to me out of the blue and gave me twenty dollars. It was really strange.”

“My girlfriend just broke up with me out of the blue.” (
여자친구가 난데없이 저를 졌어요. )

Sometimes something happens “out of the blue” or someone says something “out of the blue”, this means that it was completely unexpected.


This idiom originates with the sky. The idea is that when weather is normal the sky is blue, but when bad weather happens the sky usually changes color, or clouds form. Then from that dark sky you can get rain, thunder or lightning. Imagine though that the sky was completely clear and blue and then in an instant it started raining. Or that from a clear blue sky there was a bolt of lightning. It would be very unexpected for bad weather to happen “out of the blue” sky.
We wouldn’t use this expression for something that was expected. This sentence wouldn’t work “I knew the guy liked me and he was always flirting with me, and today he asked me out out of the blue.” A situation like that isn’t unexpected.
Also, we wouldn’t use it for something extremely tragic “My grandfather died out of the blue.” Would be too light. Idioms are not formal enough for extremely serious situations. “My goldfish died out of the blue” might be fine, if you weren’t too attached to the pet.