New Year's Resolutions
In this podcast, Jack makes some New Year's resolutions and talks about future forms and the infinitive.
Hello. My name’s Jack and Welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast. In the Premier Skills English podcast, we talk about football and help you learn or revise English.
Today, I’m recording this podcast on New Year’s eve. It’s the last day of 2021 so it’s a good time to look back at the year that is ending and think about the year to come. At this time of year, many people make New Years’ resolutions. A resolution is very similar to a solution. The word resolution is a noun. There is also a verb to resolve which is similar to the verb solve. So what’s the difference? Well, both verbs are used to say that a problem or the difficulties a problem caused are over. The difference is quite subtle. You can use solve for puzzles and maths problems; specific problems that only have one answer. And you can use resolve for arguments between friends or difficult issues during negotiations, perhaps between businesses or even between different countries at political summits.
Here are some examples:
The detective solved the mystery and arrested the killer.
I love doing crosswords. Though I hate it when there’s a clue I can’t solve.
The teacher resolved the differences between the groups in his class.
The Tutu Foundation's mission is to prevent and resolve conflict.
There’s another related word, resolute. This means determined. If someone is resolute, they are not going to change their mind about something. People can be resolute in their decisions.
He was resolute in his decision to stay in Liverpool.
The manager ignored the complaints in the dressing room and was resolute in her determination to stick to the game plan.
So a resolution is a response to a problem, but not a maths problem or puzzle, a complex problem that may have more than one solution. It also has the sense of being determined or a commitment and it’s most commonly used at the New Year when people make resolutions. So at this time of year, it’s a good time to reflect on the problems in your life and to try to come up with ideas to make things better.
I’m not sure if sharing New Year’s resolutions is a good idea. I read an article once that said if you really want to make a change in your life, you shouldn’t tell anyone. That said, I am still going to make some resolutions and I’m going to tell you about them.
This year, I’m going to make 4 resolutions about 4 areas of my life. One resolution about my health and fitness, one about my work-life balance, one about the environment and what I can do to reduce my carbon footprint and one for fun, about something I enjoy.
Before I start talking about my resolutions, I want to talk about the language we use when we make resolutions.
When you start talking about resolutions, the natural things for an English teacher to focus on are future forms. You might say something like:
I will eat less meat.
I’m going to spend less time on my phone.
I will talk a little bit about future forms in a bit, but I’ve been looking at some resolutions that people have shared online and they are normally expressed as infinitives.
I have made 2 resolutions this year:
To lose weight
To take more exercise
You have to say that these are resolutions before you say what they are. You can’t just blurt out infinitives and expect people to understand you. But once you’ve said you have some resolutions, then infinitives are the best way to describe them.
In these cases, we’re using infinitives as nouns or noun phrases. This is a bit complicated because we also have gerunds in English to use as nouns and I’ve been looking through grammar guides for a simple explanation about when we use gerunds and when we use infinitives and I can’t find a simple rule to follow so it’s probably easier to tell you that when we are talking about dreams, wishes and aspirations, we use the infinitive. So you can say my goal is to learn about grammar or my mission is to explore strange new worlds or my dream is to visit the Emirates stadium in London or my resolution is to lose weight.
To make matters more complex, sometimes you might find examples where people express these sorts of aspirations without to. So you could say:
I have made 2 resolutions this year:
take more exercise
But this isn’t very common in spoken English and is most often found in lists of resolutions so it could be just shortened forms.
I did mention future forms and there are two that are commonly used when talking about resolutions. When you have made a resolution, it’s like a plan. When you are learning future forms, you might hear that we use going to for plans that were made before the time of speaking and will for plans that are made at the time of speaking. If you are discussing your resolutions with a friend you might be making them at the time of speaking and say something like: I know, I’ll join the gym. But I think this is unlikely. Resolutions, normally, are made before you tell anyone about them so you can use going to.
I am going to join a gym.
I am going to learn how to play the guitar.
I am going to get up earlier.
All of these examples are good examples of plans that you might make as resolutions. As I said earlier. You could declare that you have made some resolutions and then only say the infinitive forms or you could say in 2022, I am going to join a gym.
So ... Now, it’s time for me to make my own resolutions. I decided to make 4 resolutions. 1 related to my health, 1 related to my work-life balance, 1 related to the environment and 1 related to something I enjoy - something for fun.
My first resolution is to take more exercise. I have a sedentary job - that means I am sitting down when I work. It wasn’t such a problem when I was younger, but now I’m really feeling out of shape and need to take some exercise every day. I am lucky because I work from home so I can fit some exercise into my day. I just need discipline.
How about you listeners? Have you made any resolutions related to your health and fitness? Does anyone plan to run a marathon this year? Or has anyone got a weight loss goal. I know I have, but it’s too embarrassing to share here.
OK, my second resolution is about work or about my work-life balance. This year, I am going to work more efficiently so I can finish all my work on time and spend more time with my family. To do this, I am going to plan my days better. When I switch from one job to another to another, I lose a lot of time because I’m not very good at focusing on different jobs.
Your turn again. Have you made any resolutions related to your work? Perhaps you work too many hours or you get too distracted by things like email and messages. Share your work related resolutions in the comments on Premier Skills English.
My third resolution is related to the environment. One of the reasons I like New Year’s resolutions is it gives you the chance to reflect on your life. To think about what you do and perhaps recognise things that you do without thinking. When I go shopping for food, I look for things that taste good first and then that are healthy and then not too expensive and I already avoid too much packaging, but I don’t really know what the carbon footprint is.
So this year, I want to calculate the carbon footprint of my weekly shopping and see what I can change to reduce it.
How about you? Have you made any resolutions related to the environment? Perhaps you are going to ride your bike or walk more?
My fourth resolution is about something I enjoy. This should be an easy resolution to keep. But what’s it going to be? I am going to watch more football. Arsenal have got Man City tomorrow so I can start my New Year’s resolution on New Year’s day.
Now it really is your turn. Share your New Year’s resolutions in the comments section on the Premier Skills English website. You could try making some resolutions like mine; one about your health and fitness, one about your work life balance, one about the environment and one about something you enjoy. I look forward to reading them all.
Before I finish, it’s time for the football phrase. In the last podcast, I challenged you to workout what we call the matches that are played on the 26th of December.
Congratulations to Dmitriy_T from Russia ,Ali Mohamed from Egypt, Joaofreitas72 and Douglas Cartier from Brazil, Mush1 and Mohamed Kuna from Sudan, CTLN from Romania, Mehmet Sisman from Turkey and 258963 from Vietnam all of you correctly identified the name for the 26th of December and a special well done for HSN from Turkey and Sabanoleg from Ukraine who managed to identify the full phrase which was boxing day fixtures.
Now it’s time for this week’s football phrase and I have thought up a really tricky phrase for you. This week, the football phrase is not really a football phrase. It’s a special greeting that you use on the 1st of January and when you meet people for the first time after the holidays. Furthermore, it’s something I want to wish all of you guys listening I hope you have a fantastic time in 2022, ***** *** ****!
And that’s all for this podcast and this year! Before I finish I just want to say that I hope you found this podcast useful and hope all of you stay fit and healthy.
Bye for now and enjoy your football.
Infinitives can be used to describe goals, ambitions and resolutions.
You can say:
My goal is to lose weight.
My ambition is to visit Japan in the autumn
My resolution is to train to run a marathon.
Grammatically, they are subject complements (they describe the subject and are linked with the verb to be).
Solve or resolve
These two verbs are very similar. Solve is normally used with puzzles and problems with simple solutions and resolve is used for more complex problems.
Will or be going to
When we are talking about plans, we use will when we are making the plans and then be going to if the plans were made before. Often in grammar books, this will be describes as plans made while speaking and plans made before the time of speaking.
Share your New Year’s resolutions in the comments section. You could try making some resolutions like mine; one about your health and fitness, one about your work life balance, one about the environment and one about something you enjoy.