Paige: You're listening to Coffee with Gringos. I'm Paige Sutherland.
Mariah: And I'm Mariah Wika. Today, we will be talking about conditionals. Conditionals are a tough grammar point for a lot of English language learners. They're tough in any language, and so today, we'll just be using them. So, as you listen, you'll have a chance to listen to conditionals in action. If you get confused along the way, we'll have the transcript, the vocabulary guide, and a little grammar view of conditionals to help you out on the website.
Paige: So, to start off, one of my favorite questions: Mariah, if you won a million dollars, what would you do?
Mariah: Oh, that's a good one. You know, I think that if I won a million dollars, I would do a few things. I would make sure that grad school was paid for. I would do things in three categories. My grandparents have always taught us that when you have money, you should do something to have fun, so I would probably take an awesome trip. You should do something to be generous. And, you should save a little. So, I would respect those three categories. I would take an awesome trip, I would make sure grad school was paid for, and I would just... I think it would be awesome to have the freedom to donate good money to some of my favorite organizations.
Paige: That's very good advice.
Mariah: How about you? If you won the lottery, or if you won a million dollars... which isn't that much anymore, unfortunately... I feel like that used to feel like the most money ever. But, what would you do Paige?
Paige: No, its true, it doesn't get you as far as you used to, for sure. But it would definitely help me out.
Mariah: But I remember, when I was a kid, I was like, "If I had a million dollars, I would buy the biggest mansion in the world. And I would have a pool. And I would have horses. And I would live in the mountains. You know?"
Paige: I would buy an island.
Mariah: I would buy an island. Yeah, as a child, I had this wild idea of how much that could buy me. Now, it would be useful... I would appreciate it greatly.
Paige: But no, it definitely doesn't go as far. A million dollars... first, I would definitely pay off my student loans that I currently have. That would be check one. I think I would buy a house. I'm sick of paying rent. Definitely buy a house. Like you said, maybe go on a trip. But, I've been travelling a lot, so I don't know if I would do that. And... probably save. I think it's something that isn't very glamorous, but saving is important because you don't have to spend it right away, right? Maybe you go on an awesome trip five years from now.
Mariah: Okay, here's another question. If you could have any talent in the world, what talent would you have?
Paige: This one's very easy, and it would be a complete change of my skills in this capacity... it would to have the ability to sing well.
Mariah: Ahhh, I've thought about that too!
Paige: I think it's just something that... singing makes you happy. Y'know, you do it while you're driving or you're at parties. It's just so fun, and I feel like it would just be so much better if you were good.
Mariah: Oh noooo, Paige. Are you tone deaf?!
Paige: I'm terrible!
Mariah: Ohhhh, sad.
Paige: But, I don't let that put me down. I still sing.
Mariah: Yes, sing Paige, sing! Never stop!
Paige: But, I do think for everyone involved, including myself, it would be better if my voice sounded better.
Mariah: Yes, it's just one of those things, where if you can sing well, when you're at a party and karaoke starts... or maybe you're at a campfire, and somebody grabs a guitar and starts playing... you suddenly become everybody's favorite person. Amazing!
Paige: Like, nobody ever hears a nice voice and is like -
Mariah: "Could you please stop?!"
Paige: Right? It's always something people appreciate!
Mariah: Absolutely, absolutely.
Paige: What about you, Mariah? If you could have one amazing skill, what would it be?
Mariah: Oh my goodness. I think if I could have one amazing skill, I would love to write amazing fiction. I love to write in general, but I think fiction is so hard to write, and it takes so much talent, so much imagination... to just be able to create an entire world or fascinating characters out of nothing. Oh my gosh. I have so much admiration for that. Can you imagine writing the next Harry Potter Series?! Or just writing this phenomenal fiction book that becomes part of culture?? I don't know, I would love to be able to do that.
Paige: Next, one of my other favorites is... it's very similar to the previous question, but, if you could have any superpower, what would you have?
Mariah: Hmm, let's see, let's see, let's see... If I could have any superpower, I think I would have the capability to time travel. But, I don't necessarily need to se the future, nor do I want to. But, I would love to able to revisit memories in the past or witness different historical events. I don't want to see the future because I think that gets really freaky and then... you try to change things about your present. But, I'm a really nostalgic person, and I would love to go back and see my childhood home and my family there or, I don't know, check out the 1920s...
Paige: If you time travelled, would you be a fly on the wall, or would you be present and active?
Mariah: I think I just wanna watch. I think that being present and active gives you too much power to potentially change your past, or it would give you to much power to potentially change your past. I think I would just want to observe, like in a movie. How about you? If you had any superpower, what would you have?
Paige: If I had any superpower, I would have the ability to teleport. I think so much of your life is based on travel, I mean some of that travel is really good...
Mariah: If it's fun travel! But some of it is having to commute to work...
Paige: And sometimes, like visiting people, like you would be able to visit your family more. Like us! We're so far away from our families. It would be nice if I could be like, "Oh, on Friday, I'm going to have dinner with my parents in Boston! And I'm coming right from Santiago!" Something like that would be so nice because a lot of times you can't do stuff because of the length of travel.
Mariah: So, talking about hopes and dreams and superpowers and talents is fun, but we also use conditionals when we talk about regrets or things that we wish we could have done differently. If you could change what you studied in school, would you go back and change it? Or, if you could have chosen something different, would you?
Paige: That's a really good question. I actually think about that often because what I studied in college, I don't use in my career. I actually studied philosophy.
Paige: Yeah, I was a philosophy major with a concentration in Peace & Conflict Studies, which is a fancy way of saying like, International Relations with a liberal spin. So, I think if I had known that I loved journalism so much in college, I would have studied journalism for undergraduate. Instead, I went to graduate school, and that's where I studied journalism. And, it's tough. It's a tough thing because I think I learned a lot in the philosophy degree that I think makes me a better journalist today, and the experiences I had in graduate school, the people I met, the places I travelled to through that program were amazing. So, it's a tough one. I don't know how different my people would have been, better or worse, if I had studied a different major. What about you, Mariah?
Mariah: Yeah, I think that similar to you, if I had know that teaching was such a great
path for me, I would have studied education! Or, if I had realized how useful learning another language is, I would have really dedicated more time to that. I would have spent more time practicing Spanish. I would have spent more time practicing German. I really loved languages, but I don't think I took it seriously enough. If I had realized that sooner, it would have changed things for me. I mean, imagine, if I had studied Spanish in a really dedicated way prior to coming to Chile, my first few months here would have been so much easier.
Paige: I couldn't agree more, I think it's funny to look back at myself in Spanish class in high school, and I grew up in a very small town, everyone barely left the state... definitely not the US. So, learning Spanish didn't seem very practical. I never probably met a native Spanish speaker at all in high school. So, if I had known ten years from then, I would be living in a Spanish speaking country, I probably would have studied a lot more in high school.
Mariah: Yeah, exactly. I totally agree. So, we've talked about those kind of unrealistic hypothetical conditionals and the regrets with conditionals, but we also just use conditionals to talk about likely situations, right? If it rains this weekend, I'll stay inside and read a book the whole time. That's a really common way to talk in conditionals. So, Paige, if it's a nice weekend, what will you do?
Paige: If the weather is nice this weekend, I will go to the beach.
Paige: I think summer is always quicker than you want it to be, so I need to not say, "Oh, I'll go to the beach!" And then it never happens, so. If it's nice this weekend, I'll try to go to the beach. What about you, Mariah?
Mariah: Yeah, I think if we have nice weather, I'll have a picnic in the park. I live right in the neighborhood of Parque Forestal, and I sometimes don't go take advantage of living right there, so I think that, yeah... if it's nice weather, I'll spend some time there.
Paige: And for all our listeners there, if you listen to Coffee with Gringos...
Mariah: You will improve your English.
Paige: That is the message.
Mariah: And those are conditionals, folks! Thanks so much for listening, we hope this has been a useful little review of what conditionals sound like in practice. Again, if you wanna see what those specific conditionals were that we used, check out that transcript, check out that vocabulary guide, and the little grammar review that are on the website. We appreciate you listening, and we'll talk to you soon!
KEY VOCABULARY, PHRASES, AND SLANG
Tough (adjective) - difficult, challenging
Example: Conditionals are tough in any language!
Grad school (slang) - graduate school, further education after completing your university degree
Mansion (noun) - a very, very big house
Example: When I was a kid, I thought I could buy the biggest mansion in the world with one million dollars!
Student loans (noun) - the money that university students have to pay back to the government after completing their degree
Example: If Paige won the lottery, she would pay back her student loans.
Tone deaf (phrase) - when a person can’t sing on key to the music
Example: Paige would love to sing well, but unfortunately she’s tone deaf!
Freaky (slang) - strange and disturbing
Example: I don’t want to have the capability to see the future because I think that would be freaky.
A fly on the wall (idiom) - a person that quietly observes a situation without participating
Example: If you could time travel, would you just be a fly on the wall, or would you actively participate?
Regret(s) (noun) - things we wish we wouldn’t have done or things we wish we had done differently
Example: One of my regrets is that I studied Communication Studies instead of Education.
GRAMMAR RULES FOR CONDITIONALS
PRESENT SIMPLE + WILL/WON’T + VERB
Examples from the pod:
If the weather is nice this weekend, I will go to the beach.
If it rains this weekend, I'll stay inside and read a book the whole time.
If we have nice weather, I'll have a picnic in the park
*Remember that I will = I’ll, you will = you’ll, we will = we’ll, he will = he’ll, she will = she’ll, it will = it’ll, they will = they’ll
PAST SIMPLE + WOULD + VERB
Examples from the pod:
I won a million dollars, I would pay off my student loans.
I think if I could have one amazing skill, I would love to write amazing fiction.
If I could have any superpower, I think I would have the capability to time travel.
PAST PERFECT + WOULD HAVE + PAST PARTICIPLE
Examples from the pod:
If I had known that I loved journalism so much in college, I would have studied journalism for undergraduate.
If I had realized how useful learning another language is, I would have really dedicated more time to that.
If I had studied Spanish in a really dedicated way prior to coming to Chile, my first few months here would have been so much easier.