English Grammar Focus – Reference Words

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Transcripts

Hello, and welcome to this month’s Grammar Focus lesson!

In this month’s video, we’re looking at referring words or reference words.

Referring words are words we use so that we don’t have to keep repeating things that we just mentioned.

So, when your friend says, “What do you think of my new hat?”

Instead of saying, “I like your new hat.” You can say, “I like it.”

This will help you be concise, economical and natural when speaking, just like a native!

Let’s get started!

Some referring words, such as he, she, it and they, are pretty easy to use, and you should be quite familiar with them already.

Notice how they help make sentences shorter and easier to say:

Jason had a few suggestions for you.

(Instead of…) What did Jason say? (Say…) What did he say?

I caught Mariah Houston in concert last night.

(Instead of…) Oh, how was Mariah Houston? (Say…) Oh, how was she?

How does table seven want their steak done?

(Instead of…) Table seven said the steak should be rare. (Say…) They said it should be rare.

Of course, there are other forms we use, too.

We say him, her, it and them after a verb:

Barbara is always late.

(Instead of…) How long have you been waiting for Barbara? (Say…) How long have you been waiting for her?

I bought Dean a new Game Boy.

(Instead of…) Did you give the Game Boy to Dean yet? (Say…) Did you give it to him yet?

I’m a huge fan of the Yankees.

(Instead of…) Me too! I watched the Yankees play last night. (Say…) Me too! I watched them play last night.

And we can say his, her, its or their if we’re talking about something that belongs to that person:

I’m looking for some Eagles’ albums.

(Instead of…) Sorry, I sold out of Eagles’ albums this morning. (Say…) Sorry, I sold out of their albums this morning.

(Instead of…) Joan has lost Joan’s cell phone. (Say…) Joan has lost her cell phone.

(Instead of…) Mark doesn’t know what problem Mark’s car has with Mark’s car’s motor. (Say…) Mark doesn’t know what problem his car has with its motor.

We’ve covered some of the easier referring words that you should already be quite comfortable with.

You’ve got a good idea now of how we use them to replace other words or phrases that we’ve already said.

But, what about other referring words that are more interesting or complicated?

Look at these examples to see what our first new referring word is:

Which car is yours?

(Instead of…) It’s the red car on the left. (Say…) It’s the red one on the left.

Which donut would you like?

(Instead of…) I’ll take a chocolate donut and a strawberry donut. (Say…) I’ll take a chocolate one and a strawberry one.

What kind of apartment are you looking for?

(Instead of…) I’d like an apartment with a view of the city. (Say…) I’d like one with a view of the city.

In these examples, you can see that we use one to replace some thing or person that’s been mentioned.

This is for a different situation to when we would use he, she or it.

Notice the difference with these examples:

I’m looking for a good photographer. Do you know any?

(Don’t say…) I used him last month that I can recommend.

(We don’t know who “him” is.) (Say…) I used one last month that I can recommend. (“One” means “one good photographer.”)

There’s a problem with a computer in the student lab. (Don’t say…) The it near the window is broken.

(We don’t say “it” with “the.)” (Say…) The one near the window is broken. (“One” means “one of the computers.”)

I’m looking for a new stove. (Don’t say…) I want a cheap it with a large oven.

(We don’t say “it” with adjectives.) (Say…) I want a cheap one with a large oven. (“One” means “a kind of stove.”)

We use a or an when there’s an adjective before the one, such as “a big one” or “an earlier one.”

Then, if there’s no adjective, we drop the a or an, like this:

What kind of hotel should we book? Let’s stay at a tropical one. Let’s stay at one on the water.

Do you know any BBQ restaurants near here? Yeah, there’s a good one not far. Yeah, there’s one on the main road.

Have you ever used a record player? I have. My dad had an old one. I have. My dad had one when I was a kid.

Just remember that we can never say “a one”:

Who wants an ice cream?

(Wrong) Can I have a one with sprinkles? (Right) Can I have one with sprinkles?

When we’re talking about many things, we can say ones:

Hi. Do you have any Stephen King books? Yes, we got some new ones in last week.

Because “one” means “just one thing,” you might think it’s strange to say “ones” as a plural.

But to talk about many things, this is actually quite normal:

We saw so many crocodiles along the Nile. They were big, scary ones!

Mommy, can I get some new pencils? My ones are all broken.

(Usually, saying “my one” or “your ones” or something similar is bad grammar, but it’s common to use in casual situations to add some emphasis.)

So, we can use one or ones for things we can count, but what do we say for uncountable nouns?

Let’s compare some sentences with countable and uncountable nouns:

If you don’t have a large cup, I’ll take a small one. If you don’t have diet soda, I’ll take regular.

(Just use the adjective at the end.)

Pizza sounds good! I’ll have one. Mozzarella cheese sounds good! I’ll have some.

(We can say some as a referring word for uncountable things.)

Did the weather report mention any storms? Yeah, it said there’d be one today.

Did the weather report mention any snow? Yeah, it said there’d be some today.

(Again, we can also use some as a referring word.)

It’s also quite common for us to make questions using “Which one…?” or “Which ones…?”:

I love Schwarzenegger movies. Oh, which one is your favorite? The one where he’s an undercover cop in a kindergarten!

I’m buying a bike for my son. Which one do you recommend for a ten-year-old?

I need some new shoes. Which ones do you think would go best with my jeans?

Hmm, I’m confused about my meds again. Which ones were for my blood pressure?

As well as one and ones, we have some referring words that we can use to help contrast with something we’ve said.

We can say other, which means like “the different one”:

We have two major problems to fix. OK, I’ll start on the database, and you handle the other.

OK, I have two salads here. One is with chicken, and the other is vegetarian.

And these are my sisters. One’s living in Cuba, and the other’s in Florida.

And for many contrasting things, you can say this:

I didn’t like the first two houses we looked at. That’s OK. There are several others I can show you today. One of them should suit your taste.

Most people go to the mall to do shopping, but others just want to hang out.

What’s the matter, Kevin My girlfriend left me! Don’t worry, there’ll be others.

For the meaning of “one more,” we say another:

This cupcake is so nice. Should I have another?

I got a day off yesterday, but I won’t get another until December.

I hope you can fix my phone. If you can’t, I’ll have to buy another.

Be careful though! Sometimes another can mean “a replacement,” while other times it can mean “one extra to what I have”:

This glass is dirty. Can I get another? (I want a replacement glass.)

We only have three glasses. Can we get another? (We want one more glass.)

Now that you know about one, other and another, can you guess what we mean when we say “one another?”

What about “each other?”

See if you can get their meaning from this example:

My husband and I call each other every day while I’m away on business. (We can also say…) My husband and I call one another every day…

(But, each other is MUCH more natural and common.) It means, “I call my husband and he calls me.”

We can say each other or one another to mean that two people do the same thing, or everyone in a group does the same thing to all the other people in the group:

When we catch up we all greet each other with chest bumps and kisses. When we catch up we all greet one another with chest bumps and kisses.

I love watching dogs chase each other round the park. I love watching dogs chase one another round the park.

Huge, gigantic and enormous all mean the same thing as each other. Huge, gigantic and enormous all mean the same thing as one another.

You can use each other quite often, while it’s better to use one another for more formal situations, like writing.

Our final referring words for this lesson are this, that, these and those.

This and that are singular, and we use them to refer to things or ideas:

How much is that? This costs ten dollars.

As you can see, we say this for things closer to the speaker in some way, and that is for things away from the speaker or closer to the listener:

Hey, watch this! That doesn’t look so hard, you know.

Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in 2008. This caused a financial crisis across the whole world. (The whole event caused the financial crisis.)

Mommy, I feel car sick! That is why I told you not to use your phone in the car. (Him feeling sick is why his mother warned him.)

Then we use these and those to talk about plural things or ideas:

Hey, these look nice. What are they? They’re pomegranates and guava. You’ve never tried them?

Those are some good suggestions, Gail. Let’s see if we can fit them into the budget.

Hey, do you want to try these on? Those are VR goggles! Yeah, let me try!

We also use that and those as more formal ways of saying one or ones.

You might hear police, government people, TV reporters or scientists talking like this, and you can use it in a business meeting or if you’re giving a student presentation:

(Casual) The real Statue of David is in some gallery, while the one out in the town square is a copy.

(Formal) The original Statue of David is in the Galleria dell’Accademia, while that located in Piazza della Signoria is a replica.

(Casual) The fingerprints on the knife look a lot like the ones at the crime scene.

(Formal) The fingerprints on the murder weapon appear to be very similar to those found at the crime scene.

(Casual) Nobel Prizes are chosen every year. The ones for physics, medicine and so on are handed out in Sweden, but the one for peace is given out in Norway.

(Formal) Nobel Prizes are decided every year. Those for physics, medicine and other categories are presented in Sweden, but that for peace is awarded in Norway.

That’s the end of this lesson.

Remember to watch the lesson three or four times so these uses become automatic.

You may understand most of the content easily on the first or second viewing, but you won’t be a master of this useful grammar point until you can effortlessly use different kinds of referring words in your everyday conversation.

Before we finish, let’s listen to an interview with a volunteer park ranger who talks about some of the interesting features of his wilderness area.

Listen for how various referring words are used, and check to see if you know what person or thing they’re referring to.

We’ll give you an opportunity later to check your answers and see if you were right!

Meet Roger. He works as a volunteer guide and ranger for the National Park Service.

He spends his weekends and holidays helping tourists enjoy their visit. He tries to make it educational for them.

Roger said, “Hello! Can you tell me what a national park is?”

We replied that it’s an area of natural wilderness, isn’t it?

Roger responded saying, “That’s right! They’re areas of wild nature set aside and preserved from development and human occupation.”

Roger continued, “Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. was the first one in the world. It was established in 1872.

After that, the second one was established in Australia, then others followed in New Zealand and Canada.”

We asked Roger what natural features his park contained.

He said, “Well, we have a volcano. One of the most dangerous ones in the world, in fact, Mount Rainier.

It had its last eruption in the early 19th century, but it could have another anytime soon.

Roger explained, “If it erupts then it could melt its glaciers. The surrounding areas will be covered in ash, lava and flooding.

If one of those doesn’t get you, another will. The destruction could be greater than that of the Mount St. Helens eruption.”

We asked if there was any nice, peaceful nature to explore as well.

Roger said, “Of course, there is some. There are forests, lakes, waterfalls and rivers. Which one would you like to hear about?”

We asked in return, which one is Roger’s favorite place?

He said, “Any river I can go fly fishing is the one for me. “I go for salmon usually.

If I’m lucky I’ll land a big one, up to 20 pounds. And those I miss will be waiting for me next time.”

Well, thank you for the interview, Roger. It’s been one of our most interesting ones to date.

Roger said, “Thanks for talking, and have a good one!”

Now we’ll play the interview through one more time, but this time we’ll replace all of the referring words with the words they are substituting for.

You will see that using referring words as much as possible helps our conversation sound more smooth and natural.

And now is your chance to check which words each referring word was referring back to. Good luck!

Meet Roger. Roger works as a volunteer guide and ranger for the National Park Service.

Roger spends Roger’s weekends and holidays helping tourists enjoy the tourists’ visit. Roger tries to make the visit educational for the tourists.

Roger said, “Hello! Can you tell me what a national park is?”

We replied that a national park is an area of natural wilderness, isn’t it?

Roger responded saying, “Your answer is right! National parks are areas of wild nature set aside and preserved from development and human occupation.

Roger continued, “Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. was the first national park in the world. Yellowstone was established in 1872.

After establishing Yellowstone, the second national park was established in Australia, then more national parks followed in New Zealand and Canada.”

We asked Roger what natural features Roger’s park contained.

He said, “Well, we have a volcano. One of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, in fact, Mount Rainier.

Mount Rainier had the volcano’s last eruption in the early 19th century, but the volcano could have a new eruption anytime soon.”

Roger explained, “If Mount Rainier erupts then the eruption could melt the mountain’s glaciers. The surrounding areas will be covered in ash, lava and flooding.

If one of the three problems doesn’t get you, a different problem will. The destruction could be greater than the destruction of the Mount St. Helens eruption.”

We asked if there was any nice, peaceful nature to explore as well.

Roger said, “Of course, there is some peaceful nature. There are forests, lakes, waterfalls and rivers. Which one would you like to hear about?”

We asked in return, which one is Roger’s favorite place?

He said, “Any river I can go fly fishing is my favorite river for me.

I go for salmon usually. If I’m lucky I land a big salmon, up to 20 pounds. And the salmon I miss will be waiting for me next time.”

Well, thank you for the interview, Roger. It’s been one of our most interesting interviews to date.

Roger said, “Thanks for talking, and have a good day or week or something!”

Listen for these words in your daily life, keep practicing and have a great day!

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