What can you do?

    Wie bitten Sie auf Englisch um Rat.
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    Von Dagmar Taylor

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    Transcript: What can you do?

    In Everyday English, we’re looking at words and phrases people use when asking and giving advice. The word “advice” is uncountable, so you can’t give “advices” to anyone. You can, however, give someone a “piece of advice” or two “pieces of advice” and so on. In our first dialogue, Maureen is meeting her friend Kate for coffee in a cafe. Before you listen, you should know that “to grow out of something” means to stop doing something as you become older.

    Maureen: Hey! There you are! Good to see you.
    Kate: Hi! I’m so sorry I’m late. I went to Quentin’s school to talk to his maths teacher, and it all took longer than expected.
    Maureen: Oh, I remember you saying that he wasn’t very happy at school. How are things?
    Kate: I’m worried sick about him, to be honest. He’s just not motivated, and his marks are getting worse. He used to be so interested in everything when he was little.
    Maureen: How old is he now?
    Kate: He’s 13. He’s in year nine at school.
    Maureen: Did his teacher give you any helpful advice?
    Kate: Well, in a way. I mean, she was very nice, but all she said was that it was normal at his age and that he’d grow out of it later.

    Did you hear Kate say she went to her son’s school to “talk” to his maths teacher? In this case, “talk” means to discuss something. When we use the word “talk” in this way, we generally mean that we’re discussing something serious or important. In the second dialogue, Maureen and Kate continue their conversation about Kate’s son, Quentin.   

    Maureen: Do you think he might be depressed? A lot of kids, particularly boys, suffer from depression during puberty.
    Kate: Yeah, I know, but I don’t think so. He’s got a nice bunch of friends he sees regularly, and he’s really into football at the moment. Generally, he seems quite happy and balancedausgeglichenbalanced.
    Maureen: So, it’s just school that seems to be the problem. Have you thought about changing schools?
    Kate: Not really. I have the feeling he’s quite to be settledsich eingelebt habensettled there. I think it has more to do with some of his subjectSchulfachsubjects. He hates Latin and maths. He can’t make himself study for them at all.
    Maureen: What about getting a private tutor to help him study?
    Kate: I hadn’t thought of that.

    Maureen says to Kate, “Have you thought about changing schools?” By giving advice in the form of a question, Maureen is being careful not to seem too pushy. Other ways of giving advice through the use of a question include, “Have you considered...?” and “Do you think it’d be a good idea to...?”


    Related article and audio

    Explore the topic further by following these links:

    Article: What can you do?
    Exercise: Asking for and giving advice

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