This is an all English podcast, episode one thousand four hundred fifty seven, we can't help using contronyms in English.
Welcome to the All Ears English podcast downloaded more than 150 million times. Are you feeling stuck with your English? We'll show you how to become fearless and fluent by focusing on connection, not perfection, with your American hosts. Aubrey Carter, the Isles Whiz, and Lindsay McMahon, the English adventurer coming to you from Arizona and Colorado. USA and to get your transcripts delivered by email every week, go to all ears. English dot com forward slash subscribe.
You are surely familiar with the word help, which we use to mean assist.
However, it's also used to mean the opposite to prevent listening today to find out how these two words could be used in an opposite way, please get for native phrases using the word help.
Hey, Lindsay, how are you? Hey, Aubrey, I am doing good, you know, I'm glad to be on the mike. It's kind of like a play break for me.
Yeah, I know you've been really busy lately. Exciting things happening in all areas, English, but it means we end up really busy, but also really excited all the time.
All right. Pluses and minuses for sure.
Yeah, but it's nice to just focus on the microphone, focus on the episode and be here for our listeners.
Yes. Be present with me today, Lindsay. Yes. I have a question for you.
OK, I'm wondering if you have any, like, habits or quirks that, you know, you should stop, but you just can't help it.
Oh, my gosh. OK, yes, I have a few. But one is definitely my weakness for peanut butter.
So I definitely have a habit of going over grabbing a spoonful of peanut butter maybe before I go out for a run or like if I need an afternoon snack.
But I feel like it's kind of a bad habit just because peanut butter is super calorie dense.
Yeah. Do you just eat a spoonful of it? Yeah, usually.
I mean, if I'm really like crazy, I'll take two spoonfuls.
But yeah, it's kind of I love it on apples and celery and like crackers, but I can't just do a spoonful of peanut butter.
No, I love it because it's so rich. It's so rich. But it does taste good with apples too. Well, I asked you that question because today we're talking about that word help.
It's part three of our country anime series. Yes. If you guys missed them, part one was Episode fourteen forty.
We talked about the word off and how that is a country anime where it has opposite meanings to different meanings that are totally opposite of each other.
And episode fourteen forty six was fine. So check those out if you miss them, right. Yeah.
I'm glad you're on the show these days. Obree to talk about animes because this is perfect, perfect for the level of our listeners. Right. We want you guys to open your minds to the fact that there could be more than one meaning for a word. Right. Make sure you're open to the fact that it could mean the opposite of what the first meaning is. Right. So this is going to challenge your level, guys.
Exactly. Yes. And it will also keep you from it will help you avoid misunderstandings, miscommunications. If, like you were saying, you're sort of closed minded and assuming verb verbs are words, just have one meaning can cause some serious problems.
Yeah. And I would also say it'll help avoid complacency. Right. I think they may reach that certain level where they can have a conversation. They're feeling pretty good. But there's a whole nother level that we could push up to when we know how to use words in opposite ways.
Right, right. So, yeah, exactly.
So today is we're talking about the word help, which I know all of you are very familiar with the first meaning, which is to assist. Right. You've heard someone asked, can I help you? How can I help? And you've likely said I want to help people. That's a very familiar meaning for us.
Right. Lindsy very easy. So we're not going to spend too much time on that today, guys, but we're going to spend most of the episode in with the other meaning, which again, is kind of the OP. Is it the opposite or just kind of another? Yeah, OK, well, it's definitely an opposite.
If you use the word help to mean to prevent something. So not you're not assisting, you're doing the opposite. You're keeping someone from doing something. It's you're being prevented from doing something.
And then we have several expressions where we use these all the time that have specific meaning that we are going to share with you guys.
This is a great episode full of really good content. Oh, yeah, this is really good stuff. And before we dive into it, I just want to remind you guys to go over and subscribe to the wild energy podcast Obree. How often do you guys publish on that? On that podcast over there?
We publish three episodes a week and they're so fun. It's Jessica and I and with lots of guests and students providing insight or tips on how you can get the scores you need on the Eilts exam so that you can reach your goals and move on with your life. So if you're not subscribe to that one, definitely check it out.
Eilts Energy. I love that.
And that's the key right there. Right. All right. Move on with your life. Just go to your dreams.
Finally get to that place where you can immigrate. If you want to bring your family abroad, whatever you want, you got to get past Eilts to do it. So go and subscribe to the show. OK, cool. OK. All right.
OK, so let's do some like example sentences with using help to mean prevent because this might be unfamiliar to you guys. You may have seen it used and assumed it was that first meaning assist and didn't quite understand. So for example, someone might say he couldn't help laughing when he saw her trip. And what that means is he couldn't stop himself from laughing. He couldn't prevent himself from laughing.
It would say, oh, I couldn't help laughing or he couldn't help laughing. Yeah.
And when I read that, at first I thought you meant trip like she went traveling.
But what you mean is she stumbled and fell. Right. And he's so mean he starts laughing at her.
It's terrible. Right. That's pretty bad. That's pretty bad. And then another example. Guys, I shouldn't have argued with her, but I couldn't help myself. Now, what does that mean, Aubrey, when I said I can't help myself.
Yeah, you couldn't stop yourself. You couldn't prevent yourself from arguing. This makes me think about sometimes I'll have family members who have very different political opinions from myself. And I know I shouldn't argue no one's opinion is going to be changed, but I can't help myself. I need to make my opinion known and at least that it's going to be a tough political season, that's for sure.
So, yeah, that's the second meaning.
Right, just to prevent to stop yourself from doing something, we use the word help to mean this.
Yeah. But then they're also hearing a lot. Yeah. Common.
We hear it all the time. Guys, you're getting really natural English here. There are a lot of phrases right on top of just understanding the meaning that are kind of chunks that natives use a lot, right? Exactly right.
So we're going to share the four most common here, OK?
Hey, guys, just a quick reminder, subscribe to the Isles Energy podcast to catch Aubrey and Jessica at three days a week, getting you ready to get past ILD and to move on with your life and your dreams. Go and subscribe to the Eilts Energy podcast from all yours English.
The first one is can't help thinking like, I can't help thinking that you have something to tell me, right?
Yeah. So this idea that you have a good reason you're short, like you have an intuition, right?
Yeah. You have a good reason for thinking something. So here's an example sentence. When my friend didn't call me back for several hours, I couldn't help thinking she might be in trouble. Yeah.
So again, you couldn't prevent yourself from thinking that you couldn't move away from that thought. I like that. Really common. Really natural. Yep. Yep.
You're going to hear natives use this all the time and now you'll realize, oh, they're not saying I can't help you. I can't assist you. It's a totally different meaning.
Yeah. And then I like the next one. Right. To say you can't help it if someone or something can't be blamed for a situation or maybe a habit. I'm thinking my dog, he's always biting the leash.
Yes. I took them to training school last night and in the middle of the training, he just like broke down and started biting the leash, biting my hands. Oh, my gosh. But he's a puppy and someone can't help it because he has so much energy and he's just bored. Right back to the example there. Yeah.
Yeah. And if someone has allergies, for example, they would say, you know, I can't help it if I'm allergic to peanuts, for example. It's something that can't be helped, meaning it can't be avoided. There's nothing you can do to prevent it and you cannot be blamed for it. Right.
Or she couldn't help it when she started crying, the movie was so sad. Oh, that's the worst feeling. When you want to cry, do you struggle with that? Sometimes you try to hide that you're going to cry. And I do in movies. My husband will look over at me in sad parts because I like Ugly Cry like this is crazy.
And then I have such a hard time not crying loudly. Oh, no, it's all right.
Just be very silent. So you mean someone three rows over could hear you just sobbing in the middle of a sad yes. If I weren't careful, yes, that would definitely happen.
That would be terrible. You can't help it. So that's how you are.
OK, the third one is really good too.
Just to say about something. Can't be helped. It can't be helped means there's no way to prevent something.
So for example, if someone were late, you would say, well, it can't be helped. We'll just have to have the meeting without him. Yeah.
So this is kind of flipping it around and putting it more in that passive voice. Right. In a sense, instead of saying he can't help it right now, it can't be helped. I like that. So that gives you guys a different way to present what you're saying.
And just as so native and natural, when I hear this all the time, I use this all the time. Oh, yeah. Oh yeah.
And then the last one. So not if someone can help it again, hear it all the time. So the speaker will do anything they can to prevent something. Right. This idea that, you know, they will do everything possible to make sure something doesn't happen.
Yeah, exactly. Like you someone might say they never eat sugar if they can help it, like they really try to avoid it. They're doing everything they can to not eat sugar.
Exactly. Or the other chunk.
Not if I can help it or someone will ask you, oh, will your will your rent go up next year? Not if I can help it. Right. I'm going to try to negotiate with my landlord would be an exact time.
Yeah, but we just say that phrase alone. Not if I can help it. Right.
So you really don't want this thing to happen, right? Absolutely. Yep, that's exactly right. OK, we have a fun role play. OK, we ready these phrases a lot.
Yes. I crammed as many as I could in here.
I would be very weird to conversation that would be so easy and er chatting about vacations we might take this year and I'll go ahead and start. So help me decide. Lindsay, I'm debating between a week at the beach or a week camping in the mountains.
Oh to be honest I never go to the beach if I can help it go for the mountains. Oh why don't you like the beach. I don't know. I don't like being in the sun all day. I always get sunburn. I can't help.
But if I have fair skin, oh, I burn easily too. We have to really sunscreen up and wear hats. But it's so fun playing in the water and building sand castles. I can't help thinking my kids would prefer the beach.
Good idea to pick the vacation your whole family will enjoy now with four kids that can't be helped. Well, have fun at the beach. I'll be in the mountains. You should come with us.
Not if I can help. It wouldn't be so rude to say that to someone you'd have to really hit the beach with.
Like not if I can help. I really would. Never would. Oh, this is so good. So let's go through it. And then I think there was a nice bonus phrase that came up that we can talk about later.
Oh yeah. Yeah. OK, so what do you say first, Aubrey?
So the very first one we use is just that, that use the verb that you're all familiar with. Help me decide. Right. Assist me in deciding. Yeah.
Guys, I really hope you're taking notes on this because we're showing you all these different ways to use these. This is good stuff.
And then I said I never go to the beach if I can help it, meaning I try. Everything I can do to avoid it. Yep, and then you said I can't help it if I have fair skin. Right. There's nothing that you can do to prevent that. You can't be blamed for it. It's totally out of your control. Exactly.
And then you said, I can't help thinking my kids would prefer the beach. So, you know, you have an intuition that your kids definitely don't want to go to the mountains.
Exactly. And we use that one again. I can't help thinking my kids would prefer the beach. I use that one a lot.
I can't help thinking we should go out tonight so that I don't have to cook dinner.
I love that.
And then you said with four kids, it can't be helped, right?
Yeah, exactly. And that's one way to use up. It can't be avoided. No way around it. There's no way to prevent it. Exactly. Yeah. And then the last one you said not like know but you invited me and then I responded in a very rude way.
I said not if I can help it. Right. So. Well so it would be rude, but you could definitely say this jokingly. Right. Depending on your intonation, it would be rude. I'm like, you should come with us. We like not if I can help it. Right. And then, you know, you're like kind of joking, but you really hate the beach.
So you're not going. Right, exactly. So do you guys tend to go to the mountains or the beach?
I have a feeling you go to the beach more than the mountains.
We really do both. We camp a lot. My I'm very lucky. My in-laws have a cabin in the mountains not far from us. Yeah. So a lot of my Instagram posts are from that cabin because we're escaping the heat.
Here we go up to the little rustic cabin, but the beach in Mexico and San Diego, California are both very close. So we're lucky we get to do both. Oh, yeah.
You were just in Mexico, right? You are at a level. That's awesome. Oh, yes. It was so fun.
I know it was. I do my Instagram post. I like it. May as well try and do it from fun places, right. Yeah. Completely. Completely. Yeah. It's so fun. I love the beach so. Yeah.
Let's, let's talk about this extra phrase which probably came because I was at the beach, I was saying we have to sunscreen up which yeah. You can say we have to put on sunscreen but it's a very native phrase to say sunscreen up meaning.
Yeah. We need to put on sunscreen. Yeah exactly.
So guys, this is the great construction here, right. When we you're using sunscreen as kind of a verb, then you're putting the preposition. Can you think of other examples?
I mean, we could do a whole nother episode, aubury just on the construction. Right. So the main thing I can think of is mount up when you if you're going to ride horses. We have my dad has horses on his property and you'll just say, like, mount up and it means everyone get on your horse. Interesting. OK, yeah.
That one sounds even also literal as well as figurative to true.
But you could say, OK, we are going to mount the horses now, right. Yeah. You can just say mount up.
That makes sense. And then kind of in a darker sense where I always hear it is the term lawyer up.
Luckily he was saying that to me, thank goodness, but hopefully not.
You know, you hear it on the movies when someone's threatening someone, right. They're saying basically you should hire a lawyer. He's a lawyer. Right.
I think I just saw that on. We were watching the social network. And we he the one guy kind of gets hosed on the stock situation. He says, lawyer up because I'm coming for everything, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Good stuff. I like that movie, actually. It's really good. Yeah.
So this is good stuff. What's the takeaway for our listeners today, Aubrey?
Well, these continents can be so tricky where they have these opposing meanings. Yeah. This one means to assist and also the opposite to prevent that can definitely cause confusion.
And we don't want you guys to misunderstand it, whether you hear it spoken or read it somewhere.
And with today's episode, you'll be able to use it correctly and take advantages of all these fun expressions with the word help.
Exactly. Exactly. And we hope that this series is going to open your minds, guys, to the fact that there's not just one meaning for a word. And of course, you know that. But just make sure you know that as you're learning new words, don't get complacent. Don't think you know the only meaning for a word like help. Right. Just open your mind to the possibility there could be other ways to use it. So then you'll you'll listen for it and you'll hear it with native speakers.
And then as you're able to use it, practice it so it becomes comfortable and you will sound so native and natural and be able to build those connections in English with friends and family.
Awesome. Good stuff. So I'm looking forward to the final episode of this series Aubury coming up soon.
Yeah, yes. We have one more, so stay tuned for that. I love this country now. I'm kind of sad the series is going to end. I know that. We'll be back with more good stuff.
Definitely. All right. OK, great to hang out with you and have a good day.
Yeah, thanks. Bye.
Thanks for listening to all ears English. If you are taking Eilts this year, get your estimated Vänskä with our two minute quiz. Go to all ears English dotcom slash my score and if you believe in connection, not perfection then hits a. Grib now to make sure you don't miss anything. See you next time.