All Ears English Podcast - 1901: Does English Grammar Make You Happy-Go-Lucky?

This is an All Ears English podcast episode 1901.

Does English grammar make you happy-go-lucky?

Welcome to the All Ears English podcast, downloaded more than 200 million times.

Are you feeling stuck with your English?

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with your American hosts, Aubrey Carter, the IELTS whiz, and Lindsay McMahon, the English

adventurer, coming to you from Arizona and Colorado, USA.

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There are a handful of grammar mistakes that even native English speakers make often.

Today we share one of these and teach you how to master it in order to close the loop

with your English.

Hey there, Aubrey.

What’s shaking?

Hi, Lindsay.

How’s it going?


Glad to be recording with you today.

What are we getting into today?

I have a question for you.

All right.

Do you consider yourself a happy-go-lucky person?

Oh, man.

I would say I generally am a pretty happy-go-lucky person.

Yeah, I’m pretty optimistic overall.

I think when I was like a teenager, it was a little easier to be like purely happy-go-lucky,


As we get a little older, I think we get more complicated.


This is such a fun idiomatic adjective, right?


You guys might be like, happy-go-lucky.

What does that mean?

It’s just an idiom.


What does it even mean?

It just means really positive, laid back, not easily stressed out, not easily worried.


I am a pretty happy-go-lucky person.

Like it takes a lot to rattle me, to stress me out, even when like things are pretty extreme

and with kids or whatever, I’m like, you know what?

It’s going to be okay.

We’re all right.

That’s amazing.

That is so good.

Like a calming presence.

Thank goodness.

You get people to calm down.



But this is interesting because this is a three-word adjective that has to be hyphenated.

When you write it, it should be happy-go-lucky, right?


And there aren’t a ton of three-word adjectives in the English language, but there are a lot

of two-word adjectives.

And this is one of the most common mistakes that is made by both native English speakers

and language learners is to forget to hyphenate these.

And what’s really hard is usually when they come after the noun, they’re not hyphenated.

When they come before the noun, they are.

So this is tricky.

We’re going to enlighten.

We’re going to simplify this so that you guys can get this right.


I mean, this is one of the things that for me, even in the last couple of years, I had

to firm up my understanding of this to check it.

I was tired of making the mistake and I had to go back and think, okay, when do I hyphenate


When do I not?

So it’s something that, yeah, native speakers definitely are challenged by this unless they

teach English, unless they think about it a lot, you know, because you don’t necessarily

write these all the time.


It’s usually, well, at least it’s often with speech, so you’re not having to worry about

it, but it’s when you write that this matters, right?

And if you are writing a cover letter for your resume, or maybe you’re writing a book,

then it matters.

You don’t want to make a mistake like this.

It is, even though native English speakers make this mistake a lot, when they see it

in the news, when they see it in a book, they, it’s flagged.

They notice it, right?

There’s something about, we’re used to seeing it correct when we read, and so you want to

make sure to write it correctly.

I love it.

So good.

So before we get into this, I think this episode is going to be super useful for our listeners

to reach to that 99% level of connection and fluency.

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This is going to be fun.

Let’s dive in now to hyphenating two word adjectives.

This that’s the main thing is when they come before the noun, you want to hyphenate.

They’re also called compound adjectives.

That just means an adjective that’s more than one word.

So two word or three word.

Those are both compound adjectives, right?



Love it.

What would be an example?

I think we’re going to have a lot of examples in today’s episode.


And the first one’s a little tongue in cheek.

A little funny that our first example is two word adjective, right?

Because the most common two word adjective is a number followed by a noun like this,


So two word should be hyphenated when it comes before adjective.

And what’s tricky, let’s just point out that if it comes after, then the sentence would

be, you know, this adjective is two words and that is not a compound adjective there.

It’s just the word two and the word words.

So no hyphen if it comes after.

It’s no longer an adjective really, right?



Two is the adjective.

Words becomes a noun when it comes after.

So that’s what you want to do.

Keep in mind, is this still being used as an adjective because sometimes it is still

an adjective after the noun.




I think it rude.

I think if you guys master this, you’re really going to feel like you’re closing the loop

on English for yourselves, right?

It’s one of those high, high level skills.

Here’s another example, right?

So first rate presentation, you know, you delivered a first rate presentation, right?

Means excellent.


I love to deliver a first rate presentation.

That’s a really good compliment.

If someone at work gives an amazing presentation, say this to them, that presentation was first



I love it.

And then when we put it after, it’s still an adjective.


So it’s still going to be that presentation was first rate.

And because first rate is still an adjective, it would still be hyphenated.


So if it’s still an adjective, we’re still going to hyphenate it even if it’s after the


Right, Aubrey?




And if you separate these words out, it would change.

It would be like the first rating or the first ratio, right?

We don’t use rate, like it would have to, if you’re going to make rate a noun, the meaning’s

going to change.

The words are going to change.

First rate together is always an adjective.

Learn that as a chunk.

It will always be hyphenated.


That’s more of it.


You guys are going to want to get the app for this today to be able to see the transcripts

while we’re speaking.

That’s going to be key here.



Let’s get to the good stuff now.


All right.

This I love.

Deep fried Oreos.

Deep fried Oreos is an adjective describing the Oreos, so it should be hyphenated.

Deep hyphen fried.

Lindsay, I love deep fried Oreos.

Have you ever had them?

You know what?

It’s crazy.

I’ve never tried deep fried Oreos.

I can’t believe I haven’t.

I can’t believe you haven’t.

Way better than ice cream.


I don’t know about that.

They just dip, they dip an Oreo in like batter and drop it in frying.

So it becomes sort of like a donut that has melted gooey Oreo in the middle.

They usually serve it at like carnivals or fairs and it is so good.


I’m going to try that next time.

Often if I go to a brewery or go somewhere for just snacks and a drink, I’ll get, well,

they call them fried pickles.

I don’t know if they’re deep fried pickles.

I love fried pickles.

Yes, they are deep fried.


They’re deep fried.

They’re always deep fried in the U.S.

Oh yeah.



But there’s, it’s interesting.

We started making these at home where we would just dip it in pancake batter and put it on

a skillet and it’s the same effect.


I actually have, I have made deep fried pickles at home too because my husband and I both

love them.


But also Oreos just in pancake batter, it’s the same effect and then you just cook it

like a pancake and the Oreo in the middle gets melty and gooey.

Lindsay, they are delicious and they’re not fried.

It’s just like a pancake on a skillet.

But do you still get the crispiness of it?

That’s the thing I would worry about losing.

That’s true.

If you deep fry it, it’s more crispy on the outside, but it is just as delicious as you’ve

probably had.

Oreo pancakes.

Have you ever had pancakes that have Oreos in them?

I’ve had pancakes that have chocolate chips in them for sure.

Have you ever had Oreo pancakes, Lindsay?

No, that sounds crazy.

You’ve been living under a rock.

You guys out there, I’m so curious, come to the YouTube video and let us know if you have

had Oreo pancakes and deep fried Oreos and then tell Lindsay what she’s missing out on.

They are sweet, but they are so scrumptious.

I didn’t know that was even a thing.

So wait, do you mean you put the pieces of the Oreo in the pancake batter?

You like crush them up.

So you put them in like a Ziploc bag and crush them, just pound them.

So they become sort of like little pieces and then you just mix them up in the batter

or sometimes we’ll like put batter on the skillet and then drop Oreo chunks on it and

then flip it.

It’s so good.

They are sweet.

This is a sweet breakfast, but yes, delicious.

My kids love them.

I love them.

Oh, okay.

I’ll try that next time.

Not the healthiest breakfast.

Not the healthiest breakfast you’ll ever eat.

Oh, sugar bump.

I mean, I think I’d have to lie down after that and just have a sugar coma.

You would be in a sugar coma.

That is very typical of our culture, right?


Yeah, this is…

Sweet, heavy breakfast.

If you really want to have all the crazy things we can do with pancakes, go to IHOP.

That would be the place to go.

They probably have Oreo pancakes at IHOP.

Oh, I’m sure.

But like the average breakfast brunch place, I feel like you can find Oreo pancakes now.

It’s a thing.

It’s because it’s trending.

You can find all sorts of…

Yeah, that’s true.

It’s right.

They’re usually huge too, right?

Be ready for a whole plate worth of a pancake.

It’s so good.


We have one more example here.


It’s Absent-Minded Professor, which this has been the title of a TV show or movie or something.

So you may have heard this before, absent-minded here is an adjective, right?

It’s describing a person who is not always focused when they’re thinking.

Absent-minded is like your mind wanders a lot.


And this is kind of the stereotypical idea.

Sometimes professors are so focused on their area of expertise that sometimes they can

be a mess in other areas or in a very endearing and adorable way.

I’m thinking of my mom because she was a professor of child psychology for 10 years.

And she can be absent-minded in other ways.

But if you start talking about child psychology, she’ll go forever and just go very, very deep.

She probably has all these deep thoughts she’s always having.

She can’t be focused on not burning dinner when she’s thinking about important things.

There’s more important things to think about in life, right?


I love that.

This is good to keep in mind, though.

This also will always be hyphenated an adjective.

So learn it as a chunk, absent-minded, closed-minded, open-minded.

All of these that we used to describe, different narrow-minded, nice, are all hyphenated two-word

adjectives because they’re always an adjective.


Okay, good.

So I think our listeners want to see how this is done in a real conversation.


So we have a short role play where you and I are at work waiting for a meeting to begin.

You can definitely use these at work, guys.

All right, here we go.


Look at that four-page agenda.


I’m only a part-time employee, so I’m not actually sure if I’m supposed to attend this

meeting or not.

I feel like you’re a level-headed person, though, so they may want your feedback.


So we actually have three new ones in this role play, which is fun.

We didn’t use the same ones we taught you because there are so many two-word adjectives,


And I think our listeners would see this really often with page, like 20-page paper, right?

Yes, right.

So if it comes before the noun, four-page would be four hyphen page.

You can either write out four or write the number.

But if you’re saying this agenda is four pages, no hyphen, because then four is the adjective

and pages is the noun.

Yes, I love it.

So important.

And you know, you think of, yeah, like I said before, like a 20-page thesis.

You have to write these huge papers in college, in your master’s program.

So that’s where you might hear that a lot.

Really any place you have to do a huge study, that kind of thing.

But even if you’re like reading a news article, if you share a news article with a friend,

they might be like, that is a two-page news article and I, TLDR, what is it?

Too Long, Didn’t Read.


I’ve never heard that before.

You’ve never heard that?

Oh, I see it all the time.

This acronym means Too Long, Didn’t Read.

Because someone sends you something that’s so long and all you respond, if you’re like,

I can’t read that.

It’s too long.

You just write T, the capital letters, the acronym, TLDR.


Too Long, Didn’t Read.

We really have to be concise these days, don’t we?

Okay, fair enough.

That one’s been around a while though.

You guys leave a comment and let Lindsay know, she should know what that acronym means.

I see it a lot.

I think I’m missing a lot out in the world.

I don’t know what I’m doing these days.

And bonus here, Aubrey, you said yikes.

Very native and natural.

I say that all the time.

And even though this role play, we’re at work, I still would be like, yikes.

It is indicating like stress or fear, right?

But we’ll also use it to sort of be silly and funny sometimes if someone says something

and we’re like, yikes.


So good.

You’re definitely a part-time employee.

So our listeners will see this a lot.


Part-time, very common two-word adjective should always be hyphenated.

Again, learn that chunk.

This one’s not separated.

This employee is part-time, even if it comes after, still an adjective, two-word adjective


Important to know the difference, right?

Or full-time employee.

The same.


Full-time, always hyphenate that.

Next one.

Love this.


I feel like you’re a level-headed person.

That is quite a compliment.

I don’t like to be told that I am level-headed.


It’s good.

It’s good.


You know, you don’t lose your cool.




It’s very visual to imagine someone keeping their head level and holding still instead

of like being energetic and bouncing all over.

All over the place.

What’s the takeaway for our listeners?


This is a very common mistake, guys, for both natives and language learners.

But now that you know when to do it, you have that just little bit of detail, you know,

to make your business English a little more polished.

Use this for formal writing.

Be sure to write two-word adjectives correctly.


Like I said before, guys, this is one of the probably five grammar skills that would close

the loop for you on becoming super native and natural.

It’s one of the things that native speakers aren’t totally sure about until they take

a look and they remember that rule.

And so if you can close the loop in your mind on this, you’re going to feel good.

You’re going to feel that extra level of confidence.

And we want you to have that confidence.




By the way, I just want to say you’re welcome because I did the deep dive that you don’t

have to want to do.

There’s so much info online and it’s a little hard to sift through it.

So just follow Aller’s English so that you can get the important grammar and just what

you really need to know instead of wading through the Internet, you guys.


And I’ll go ahead and say thank you, Aubrey, on behalf of our listeners for doing that

work for us.

We love it.

Just in 15 minutes a day, you guys can come away with really getting it, getting what

you need to know and going back out into the world and connecting.

All right.

Yes, for sure.

I love it.

And I enjoy doing it.

All right.

Thanks for hanging out today.

I’ll see you next time.


See you later.


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