Understanding Grammar: Choices & Preferences
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Jack, Rowan and Rich are at the cinema deciding what film to watch. Jack hates one type of film so Rowan and RIch decide to play a trick on him. The language focus is on words and phrases we use when making choices and talking about preferences. In this week's task, we want you to decide what you would do in three very different situations. Don't forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have a new football phrase for you to guess.
Choices & Preferences
Rowan: Hello my name’s Rowan
Rich: My name’s Rich
Jack: and I’m Jack
Rowan: And welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast.
Rich: In the Premier Skills English podcast, we talk about football and help you with your English.
Rowan: Don’t forget you can find the transcript for all our podcasts on the Premier Skills English website.
Jack: In this week’s roleplay, we’re at the cinema and deciding what film to go and see.
Rich: And we decide to play a trick on Jack. It’s a little bit mean but I think it’s funny.
Jack: You can tell us if you think it’s mean or funny after you’ve listened to the roleplay.
Rowan: After the roleplay, we’re going to look at language we use to talk about things we prefer to do. The language of preferences. Can you give us a couple of examples, Rich?
Rich: I prefer to watch football live when I can or I’d rather watch paint dry than watch Arsenal play.
Jack: Being a bit mean again, Rich, Arsenal are playing well this season, but yes, we’ll be looking at that kind of language.
Rowan: And your task this week is to tell us what you’d rather do in some different situations
Jack: And we want you to think of a situation for other listeners, too.
Rich: If you are listening to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcast platform, you should also check out our website.
Rowan: On the Premier Skills English website you’ll also find
the transcript, examples and activities to help you understand the language, and a task for you to complete.
Jack: You’ll also find a community of friendly listeners to interact with, in our comments section.
Rich: And that includes us - we’re always around to answer questions and join in the discussions.
Rowan: But if you listen on Apple Podcasts you can always write your answers to our questions or any other comments in the review section.
Jack: Before we do the roleplay let’s look back at last week’s football phrase.
Last week’s Football Phrase
Rich If you didn’t hear our football phrase last week we’re going to give you one more chance to guess now.
Rowan: The phrase was * ******* ***-*****. The phrase is used to describe a player who scores three goals in a match but not just that. To score * ******* ***-***** you need to score one goal with your left foot, one with your right foot and a goal with your head.
Jack: We had lots of correct answers last week but nobody was quicker with the answer than Daniel Baron from Colombia. Well done again Daniel!
Rich: A big well done to the following listeners who also got the right answer: Wsanta from Argentina, Hayato from Japan Max Alex from Vietnam, MoBeckham and HSN from Turkey, Liubomyr and Alex from Ukraine, Ahmed Adam Mamado from Sudan, Elghoul from Algeria and Robert Tavares from Brazil.
Rowan: And also to: Balqees from Iraq, Idzingirai from Zimbabwe, Nurtay from Kazakhstan, Marco Zapien, Erikpgd, Vic and Mario from Mexico, Emmanuel from France, Cho Euihyeoung from South Korea, and Owenluk from Hong Kong.
Jack: We also had a lovely email from Navid in Iran. We were really happy to read your story, Navid, and good work on the football phrase.
Rich: Yes, last week we asked you to tell us about things you have done at the last minute. Navid told us about a school trip that he had to miss.
Jack: Robert Tavares told us how everyone in Brazil likes to do things at the last minute - although he blames it on the traffic.
Rowan: And HSN from Turkey told us about catching a plane at the last minute while Vic from Mexico told us how he hates people doing things at the last minute.
Jack: If you haven’t heard this podcast it’s called Understanding Grammar: Just and Yet and you can find it on the Premier Skills English website or on Apple Podcasts.
Introduction to Roleplay
Rich: As we said earlier, in this week’s roleplay we’re at the cinema.
Rowan: We’re deciding what film to go and see.
Jack: While you listen we want you to answer two questions:
Rich: Question one: What type or genre of film does Jack dislike?
Rowan: And question two: What film do we watch in the end?
Rowan: Hi, Rich. You’re early for a change.
Rich: Yeah, well, I need to get some popcorn before the film starts.
Rowan: We need to choose a film first.
Rich: Is Jack not here yet?
Rowan: Not yet. I’m sure he’ll just be a minute or two. He’d rather be watching football I imagine.
Rich: Probably. What’s on then?
Rowan: Well, I fancy the latest James Bond film. What about you?
Rich: Let’s have a look. What about that one - The Invisible Man.
Rowan: It’s a horror, isn’t it? You know what Jack is like with horror films. He won’t want to watch that.
Rich: Yeah, he’d probably prefer James Bond as well but I want to see his face when we both say we want to watch The Invisible Man. Let’s see how he tries to get out of watching it.
Rowan: You’re so mean, but, yeah, let’s see.
Jack: Hey guys. Sorry, to keep you waiting.
Rich: I’ve got the popcorn.
Jack: Popcorn? I’d rather have an ice-cream. It doesn’t matter. Popcorn’s fine. Thanks.
Rowan: We were about to get the tickets.
Jack: Oh, you’ve chosen without me?
Rich: No, we’ve just been looking at what’s on and we’ve both got the same idea: The Invisible Man.
Jack: Oh, right. The Invisible Man. I’ve seen it.
Rich: You can’t have. It’s only just come out.
Jack: Oh, The Invisible Man. Yeah, um …, that’s a horror, right? We could watch that, but haven’t you seen that the new James Bond film is out. Wouldn’t you rather watch that? You know that I prefer watching films with a bit more action and a little less, er … suspense.
Rowan: Maybe, but I’ve seen the Invisible Man has had some really good reviews.
Jack: Really?? I saw on Rotten Tomatoes that it was a real stinker - one of the worst films of the year. I think I’d prefer to see something else.
Rich: Come on, Jack. It’s two against one. I like horror films much more than action films. We can see James Bond next time. I’d like to see The Invisible Man.
Jack: Look it doesn’t start until ten. We’d have to wait around for an hour and I’d miss the last bus home. I’d prefer an earlier film if you don’t mind.
Rowan: I can give you a lift home, Jack. Don’t worry.
Jack: Thanks but it’s not that - it’s just not my cup of tea - that’s all.
Rich: You’re not scared, are you?
Jack: No, I just ... I don’t reckon it’d be very good. Like I said, I’d rather watch an action film than a horror.
Rowan: I think he’s scared, Rich.
Rich: It’s only a film, Jack.
Jack: Alright, alright, I’m scared - I can’t stand horror films. I’d like to watch something that is not going to wake me up at three in the morning in a cold sweat. Horror films aren't my thing. I’m not into horror films. Okay?
Rowan: You were right, Rich. Look at his face.
Jack: About what? What have you got there?
Rich: Three tickets to James Bond. Come on, it starts in two minutes.
Rowan: Before the roleplay, we asked you two questions. The first question was: What type of film does Jack dislike?
Jack: The answer, as I’m sure you know, is horror films. They terrify me.
Rich: And our second question was: Which film do we watch in the end?
Jack: The answer is James Bond because even though Rich and Rowan were a bit mean in the roleplay they wouldn’t really make me sit through a horror film at the cinema.
Rowan: OK, we’re going to look at a bit of language now. In the roleplay, we spoke a lot about preferences and the types of film we prefer.
Jack: We’re going to focus on three words: like, prefer and rather.
Rich: We’re going to see how we use these words to speak about preferences in general and how we use them in specific situations.
Rowan: Let’s start with general preferences. In the roleplay, Rich said that he likes watching horror films much more than action films.
Jack: I said that I prefer watching films with more action and less suspense.
Rich: And Rowan said that Jack’d rather be watching football than going to the cinema.
Rowan: So, all of these examples talk about general preferences. We’re talking about what we prefer in general.
Jack: In the first sentence we use like plus the gerund - the -ing form - he likes watching horror films.
Rich: In the second sentence we use prefer plus the gerund - he prefers watching films with more action.
Rowan: In the third sentence, we use would rather plus the infinitive without to - Jack would rather be watching football.
Jack: All of these examples show how like, prefer and would rather can be used to speak about preferences in general.
Rich: It’s also important to notice that we can use like and prefer with different verb forms when we are speaking about general preferences but we can’t use would rather in the same way. Listen to these examples:
Rowan: I like books more than films.
Rowan: I like to go to the football more than the cinema.
Rowan: I prefer books more than films.
Rowan: I prefer to go to the football more than the cinema.
Jack: We can use like and prefer followed by a noun or the infinitive with to to talk about preferences. We can’t do this with would rather.
Rich: Let’s talk about preferences in specific situations. We are talking about preferences or making choices in the present or future here.
Jack: When we talk about preferences in specific situations we can still use would rather. Listen:
Rowan: I’d rather have an ice-cream but I’m OK with popcorn. Thanks.
Rich: I’d rather watch an action film than a horror if that’s all right with you.
Jack: Notice how we contract I would rather to I’d rather. I’d … I’d rather … I’d rather have an ice-cream.
Rowan: We can also use like and prefer in the same way but we now add would. Listen to these examples:
Rich: I’d like to see The Invisible Man.
Jack: I’d prefer an earlier film or I’d prefer to see an earlier film.
Rowan: We use like and prefer followed by a noun or followed by the infinitive with to. When we use rather we always follow it with the infinitive without to.
Rich: If you’d like to learn more about like, prefer and rather and the different verb patterns you can use we have more activities and examples on the Premier Skills English website.
Jack: We’ve been looking at how we use would rather to talk about preferences and there is another phrase I’d like to look at. That phrase is rather than.
Rowan: We use rather than to give more importance to one thing when there are two alternatives or preferences available.
Rich: In the roleplay, Jack said, Popcorn? I’d rather have ice-cream.
Jack: Here I was selecting a preference for one thing over the other. I was saying that I’d prefer ice-cream to popcorn.
Rowan: Jack could have said Could I have ice-cream rather than popcorn? Or I’d like ice-cream rather than popcorn.
Rich: We often use rather than when we are selecting one choice over another. It’s very similar to instead of. Listen to these examples:
Jack: I cycled to work today rather than taking the car.
Rowan: I generally drink tea rather than coffee.
Rich: Rather than shooting he unselfishly passed to a teammate.
Jack: We’ve got more about this on the website along with explanations of some more of the vocabulary we used in the podcast.
Rowan: In this week’s task, we are going to give you three choices and we want you tell us your preference.
Rich: We would like you to use the words like, prefer and would rather in your answers.
Jack: We would also like you to write a choice for other listeners to answer.
Rowan: Choice number one: You’re at the cinema with friends. There is a comedy, a romance an action film and a horror film. Which film would you prefer to watch?
Rich: Choice number two: There are two football matches on TV at the same time. You’re club are playing on one channel and your country on another. Which match would you rather watch?
Jack: Choice number three: A powerful genie gives you the chance to be invisible for the rest of your life or read people’s minds. Which special power would you like?
Rowan: Write all your answers in the comments section on the Premier Skills English website and then write another choice for all of our listeners to answer.
Rich: Have you got a football phrase for us, Jack?
Jack: I have. This week’s football phrase is just a word and the word is ********. It is used to describe a person or a group of people with less power or money than other people and in football is used to describe a team that has less chance of winning. If Liverpool play at home against Accrington Stanley, Liverpool are the favourites and Accrington Stanley are massive *********.
Rich: Good luck with the phrase and if you are still wondering what the answer was to last week’s football phrase it was a perfect hat-trick.
Rowan: Right, that’s all we have time for this week! Don’t forget to write your answers to our questions and make a guess at our football phrase in the comments below. If you get it right, we’ll announce your name on next week’s show.
Jack: If you have a question for us about football or English you can email us at email@example.com
Rich: or you can leave your questions and comments on the website in the comments section or on our Facebook page.
Rowan: or you could give us a rating and a fantastic review on Apple Podcasts.
Jack: Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
Here is the vocabulary you saw at the top of this page and how Rich and Jack used it in the roleplay. Do you know the words in bold?
Well, I fancy the latest James Bond film. What about you?
Let’s see how he tries to get out of watching it.
You can’t have seen it. It’s only just come out.
The Invisible Man has had some really good reviews.
Thanks but it’s not that - it’s just not my cup of tea - that’s all.
No, I just ... I don’t reckon it’d be very good.
Listen to the roleplay again to hear how Rich and Jack used these words and phrases.
In the podcast, Rich, Rowan and Jack looked at language we use to give preferences and make choices. They focussed on three words: like, prefer and rather. These words can be used to talk about things you prefer in general. Take a look at these examples from the roleplay:
I like watching horror films much more than action films.
I prefer to watch films with more action and less suspense.
He would rather be watching football than going to the cinema.
I prefer horror films.
When we use like and prefer to talk about what we prefer in general we can either use the gerund/-ing form or the infinitive with to. This is the same with similar verbs such as love, hate, adore and can't stand. We can also use these forms followed by a noun. However, when we use rather to talk about preferences we use would and it is followed by the infinitive without to.
In the roleplay, Rich, Rowan and Jack had to state their preferences at that specific moment. When we make specific preferences in the present or about the future we use would rather in the same way as with general preferences but we use like and prefer a little differently. Take a look at these examples from the roleplay:
I’d rather watch an action film than a horror if that’s all right with you.
I’d like to see The Invisible Man.
I’d prefer an earlier film or I’d prefer to see an earlier film.
When we are making a choice or stating a preference in a specific situation we add would to both like and prefer. Again, we can follow like and prefer with the gerund/-ing form, the infinitive with to or a noun, but we can not do this with would rather which is always followed by the infinitive without to.
In this activity, check your understanding of the language of choices and prefences.
Choices and Preferences
Jack, Rowan and Rich spoke about the language of choices and preferences. In this week's task, you have three choices to make and we want you tell us the choices you make and why.
- Choice number one: You’re at the cinema with friends. There is a comedy, a romance an action film and a horror film. Which film would you prefer to watch?
- Choice number two: There are two football matches on TV at the same time. You’re club are playing on one channel and your country on another. Which match would you rather watch?
- Choice number three: A powerful genie gives you the chance to be invisible for the rest of your life or read people’s minds. Which special power would you like?
- When you have finished, write an extra choice for other listeners to read and reply to.
Write all your answers in the comments section below and don't forget to make a guess at this week's football phrase!