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Hi. I'm Gill at, and today we have a lesson on a little word "back".
And this is in response to a request from Najma, who posted a comment on the
website. So, thank you, Najma, I hope you're watching. This is for you. Okay. So, the use
of the word "back". It's a very common word; it's used all the time. And it's also used
in different ways as different parts of speech. So it can be used as a noun, as an adjective,
as an adverb, as a verb, and it can be used as part of a phrasal verb. So I'll be showing
you examples of all of these. Okay?
So, let's start with "back" used as a noun. Okay? So, for example, if you're talking about
a friend of yours who, when they get on the bus, they always go to the back, they like
to sit at the back. So: "He always sits at the back of the bus." You can tell it's a
noun because it has "the" in front of it. "The back", okay? Right, so:
"He always sits at the back of the bus."
Second one, the back can be in a location, but you can also talk about my back, that's
this, part of your body is your back at the back. So: "My back is itching!" Oo, ah, oo.
I have to scratch. It's itching. Ah. Okay? "My back is itching." Okay? Useful word: "itching".
It's probably not polite, though, to sort of scratch in public. So you have to be a
bit careful about that. It's probably safe to scratch your back and to scratch your head
up to a certain extent, but other parts of the body, maybe not a good idea in public.
So, okay, better move on.
Right, you're arranging to meet somebody and depending on whether you're in America or
in another part of the world where English is spoken, you can either say:
"I'll meet you in back of the building." That's the American way of using "back"
or in the U.K., for example,
we would say: "I will meet you behind the building." That means at the back, behind.
It's a similar idea. So "in back of" is American. In the U.K., we say "behind". All right. So
that's "back" as a noun.
Moving on to "back" used as an adjective to describe something, a back something. Question:
"Did you close the back door?" Okay? In your house, you might have a back door and a front
door. This is the back door, the door at the back of the house, the back door. Okay? And
also: "He's in the back room." So different rooms in the house, a room at the back is
called "a back room" as an adjective. Okay. All right.
Then moving on, using "back" as an adverb where it's sort of modifies a verb:
"I'm going back home now." You can say: "I'm going home now."
But going back home is like the idea
of returning home. "I'm going back home now." To go back.
Right? And, finally, in this section:
"Our neighbours are back from holiday."
So, that again is an adverb: "they are back from holiday".
Okay, so we'll move on now to look at "back" used as a verb.
Okay, so now let's have a look at "back" used as a verb. Right? So, for example:
"The car was backing into the street." So the car was going backwards
into the street, it was backing.
So "to back" is what a car can do. Okay? Another way of backing somebody or something, if you
say: "Don't worry - if you want to raise this issue with the boss I will back you." Meaning:
I will support you. If there's a problem in the office, and your friend is a little bit
unsure about whether to talk to the boss about it, they need a bit of support, you say:
"I will back you." Meaning:
"I will agree with you and say the same thing to the boss that you are saying."
Okay? "I will back you", support you. And a similar idea of supporting:
"The company will back the project." That usually means money, putting money into a
project to make something happen, so "to back something" can be financial. Okay.
And then if we move on to look at some phrasal verbs where "back" is used with another verb,
there are different uses of that. So, for example, maybe somebody is saying something
that you don't agree with, and rather than sometimes you might keep quiet and say:
"Well, I'm not going to say anything. It could cause trouble",
but sometimes you just have to say: "Well, actually, I don't think that's true."
You're challenging the person. Disagreeing
with them. So: "When I challenged her she backed down." It means she didn't keep saying:
"Oh no, well, that is true." She didn't. She did the opposite. She sort of... It's like
taking a step back and saying: "Oh, okay then, maybe I'm wrong. You may be right." So if
you challenge somebody, they are either going to argue back or they're going to say:
"Oh, okay then, whatever you say. I'm not going to argue." That's backing down, if you're
sort of standing back from it. Okay?
In computing, sometimes... Something I hardly ever do, very bad, but:
"We need to back up these files."
Meaning to make a copy of some files in case you lose the original copy on
your computer, you have a backup copy. To back up some files on the computer is to make
an extra copy, and maybe keep it somewhere else; on a disc, or a memory stick, or something
for security. Okay? So "to back up". Now, if you have made an agreement with someone,
but then they change their mind, they think: "Oh, no, I don't want to do that after all":
"He wants to back out of the agreement." Meaning it's a bit like the car, backing out. He doesn't
want to do this anymore; he wants to back out of the agreement. He doesn't want to do
it. So going back away from it.
And then, finally, just a simple one, I have lent my book to somebody:
"She has forgotten to give me back my book."
So "to give back" is a phrasal verb. This time, it's sort of
split with "me" in the middle. That happens sometimes. You can't say: "She has forgotten
to give back me my book." It's: "to give me back my book", so that is a little tricky,
but that's how you say it.
Okay, so I hope that's been a helpful overview of how the word "back" is used as different
parts of speech. And if you'd like to do a quiz to test yourself on this, please go to
the website at and do the quiz. And if you'd like to subscribe to my channel
on YouTube, that would be great. And hope to see you again soon. Okay. Bye for now.
Oops, sorry. I forgot. Talking about forgetting, I missed one of my examples, so let's go back
and have a look at it. Okay, this one. If two people are maybe arguing and you think:
"Oh, they're going to be fighting in a minute. They'll be doing this", punching and fighting,
you might say to one of them or both of them: "I think you should back off." "Back off"
meaning both of you step back, away from each other, otherwise it could be [punches], like
that, and not a good idea. So, I think you should back off, calm down, we don't want
to fight. Let's make friends again once you calm down. So "back off", step back. Okay?
That's it.
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English Vocabulary: Many ways to use the word 'BACK'

284 Folder Collection
Lui Kwunhim published on July 10, 2017
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