[00:00.00]The 2014 film Whiplash tells the story of a young man who wants to be a great jazz musician.
[00:12.02]He has a music director who often says cruel things to him.
[00:18.29]At one point in the film, the music director makes this statement to the young man:
[00:26.07]There are no two words in the English language more harmful than "Good Job.''
[00:36.90]Today's report will be much nicer than the lines of the film suggest.
[00:43.58]We will not be learning about mean music directors (at least, not today).
[00:51.16]Instead, we will talk about two very common adjectives: the words "nice" and "good."
[01:00.04]We will show you how Americans use these words in everyday speech.
[01:05.07]We will also show you how they are used in social situations.
[01:10.96]But first, we have to give you a few definitions.
[01:16.15]Adjectives are words that help describe or provide information about nouns.
[01:24.76]Speakers generally use adjectives before a noun or after a non-action verb.
[01:34.96]Such verbs are sometimes called linking verbs.
[01:40.34]In everyday speech, Americans often use the adjectives "good" and "nice."
[01:48.78]These words have a positive, but inexact meaning.
[01:55.40]Here are two examples:
[01:57.73]She is a good person.
[02:00.31]He is a nice man.
[02:03.61]In the examples, the adjectives "good" and "nice" come before a noun – the words "person" and "man."
[02:16.30]These are pleasant, respectful ways to describe people.
[02:22.10]Americans use the adjectives "good" and "nice" in other ways.
[02:27.72]They use them in a few common expressions.
[02:31.96]Terms like "not very nice" and "not very good" are generally used to describe people and their behavior.
[02:43.37]These indirect expressions show an undesirable or bad opinion, but they have a softer meaning than direct speech does.
[02:55.10]Consider our next example.
[02:58.27]Listen to this exchange that two students might have:
[03:02.98]1: Have you finished your math homework?
[03:06.03]2: No, I'm not very good at math.
[03:08.40]1: Well, the teacher doesn't help much...
[03:11.78]2: Yeah, he gave me an F on the last test.
[03:15.97]He told me my grade in front of the entire class… that wasn't very nice of him...
[03:22.42]In this example, you heard two uses of not very + an adjective: not very good and not very nice.
[03:34.61]Americans often use these expressions in place of direct language.
[03:41.21]Instead of saying "I'm not very good at mathematics," the student could have said, "I'm bad at math."
[03:50.85]Instead of saying, "that wasn't very nice of him…," the other student could have said, "that was a mean thing to do."
[04:01.28]The two speakers used "good" and "nice" in indirect expressions because they are considered to be more polite.
[04:11.72]Susan Conrad and Douglas Biber are experts on English grammar.
[04:18.62]They say English speakers often use "good" and "nice" for social reasons.
[04:26.53]They use these words to give praise, express approval, and show appreciation.
[04:34.95]They also use them to show a positive reaction.
[04:39.82]We are not able to give you examples of all of these uses.
[04:45.50]However, we can show you how Americans use them in a few situations.
[04:53.16]Speakers often use "good" and "nice" in expressions that praise people for their possessions or successes.
[05:03.56]A friend might comment on your new shoes by saying, for example, "Those are nice shoes. Where did you get them?"
[05:13.32]Or a teacher might congratulate a student by saying, "You did a very good job on the test."
[05:22.39]Think back to the film Whiplash. You heard the music director tell his student:
[05:28.82]'There are no two words in the English language more harmful than "Good Job.''
[05:39.99]By saying that the words 'good job' are harmful, the music director means that words of praise are bad.
[05:49.87]He believes that true artists will never become disheartened – no matter how mean people are to them!
[05:58.61]Another use of good is to show approval of an idea.
[06:04.42]One speaker presents an idea and another speaker reacts in an approving way by saying, "Good idea," for example.
[06:17.36]In an office, a supervisor might tell an employee, "That's a good idea. I like that."
[06:26.88]Friends eating at a restaurant, for example, might say the following words:
[06:33.71]1: Do you want dessert?
[06:36.66]2: Sounds good to me!
[06:38.14]Here, the second speaker is showing approval at the first speaker's idea – getting something to eat after the meal.
[06:49.80]This is an easy-going, friendly way to agree with another person.
[06:56.34]The next time you are watching a film or listening to music in English, try to find examples of "good" and "nice."
[07:07.68]Ask yourself how the speakers use these words.
[07:11.91]Do they have a social use?
[07:14.27]Are they replacing direct speech that might be considered rude or uncultured?
[07:20.89]Learning how to use good and nice can be difficult.
[07:25.07]But with hard work and effort, you will make good progress.
[07:31.13]I'm John Russell.
[07:33.25]And I'm Dorothy Gundy.