Meryl Streep is an American actress who has worked in theatre, television, and film. Meryl Streep is one of the best actors of our time.  She has won countless awards and most recently won ‘Best Lead Actress’ in the film "The Iron Lady" at the 84th Academy Awards or ‘The Oscars’.  Meryl Streep has repeatedly succeeded in the highly competitive world of acting.  Let’s get some advice from a woman who has never shied away from a challenge!

 

Question:  With young girls today, young women watching the Oscars, what advice would you give to them if they are thinking about going into filmmaking or acting?

 

Meryl Streep:  Never give up. Don't give up, don't give up. I mean, many girls around the world live in circumstances that are unimaginably difficult. And it's not, you know, show business is a golf game compared to the way most kids grow up in the world. But I would say never give up. On March 8, 9, and 10, Tina Brown is hosting something called Women in the World in New York, a 3 day symposium bringing activists around the world on behalf of issues concerning women and girls, and it's a great, great thing. Hope you will write about it and go see it. And thank you very much.

 

 

Speaking Tip

 

When giving advice we often use phrases such as:

I suggest you….

If I was/were you, I'd ...

If that happened to me/In that case/If I had that problem, I'd ...

If I were in your shoes, I’d

(see more at English Club http://www.englishclub.com/vocabulary/fl-giving-advice.htm)

 

These styles soften the language.  So why did Meryl Streep use an Imperative form or Command form to give advice to young girls and women? 

 

“Never give up. Don't give up, don't give up”

 

Doesn’t it sound a bit too harsh or strong?

 

Usually in language learning classes we tend to learn the above phrases because they are politer or softer for the listener.   As you know, the Imperative/command form can sound too strong or impolite in many situations. 

 

Let’s see what is different and how to use this speaking style like Meryl Streep.

Meryl emphasizes her feeling with the command form of the language.  Moreover, she is an award winning ‘pro’ in her area and older than the age group she is talking to.   As a mother talking to her children or giving advice to them, the imperative form of the language is often used.  Also, I might use this form with people I am close to especially in a more emotionally charged situation. 

 

Examples:

 

(1)Son: I am going to quit hockey. I hate it.

Mother: Ooh…Don’t give up. You have worked so hard.  Keep on trying!

 

(2)My friend: I can’t do this anymore.  Everyone laughs at me. 

Me: Don’t stop trying! Who cares what other people think? (rhetorical question usage)

 

In these cases, it actually sounds like the speaker is more caring than saying: If I were in your shoes or If I were you, I’d… .

 

Why? 

(1)   The above phrases sounds like you are more distant from the speaker.  However this is also the reason why the If I were you, I’d… can sound softer or nicer to a listener you don’t know so well. 

(2)   The imperative/command form actually creates the sense that the speaker cares about you. Yes, it is direct but command forms are often used amongst good friends or family.

 

As you can see, the grammar ideas can blur or overlap a bit because of the context.  Here are a few practice situations to try:

 

 

(1) Situation: You are at the Oscars and have just won an award!

 

Question: What advice can you give to aspiring actors?

Your Answer/Idea:  

 

(2) Situation: Your daughter has been taking piano lesson for 3 years now and is doing well. But today she is really frustrated and wants to quite.  What could you say in this case?

Your Answer/Idea:  

 

(3) Situation:Your co-worker is angry at the manager’s decision.  Your co-worker is good at their job and usually quite happy. What could you say?

Your Answer/Idea:  

 

If you are struggling with these situations here are some answer ideas from me.

 

(1) Situation: You are at the Oscars and have just won an award!

 

Question: What advice can you give to aspiring actors?

Your Answer/Idea:  Hang in there! Don’t give up! 

 

(2) Your daughter has been taking piano lesson for 3 years now and is doing well. But today she is really frustrated and wants to quite.  What could you say in this case?

Your Answer/Idea:  Don’t quite now.  Everyone gets frustrated.  You are doing really well.  Remember when the music from “The Sting” was hard but now it is easy for you.  Keep trying.  You can do it!

 

(3)Your co-worker is angry at the manager’s decision and is going to resign.  Your co-worker is usually happy at work and enjoys his job. What could you say?

Your Answer/Idea:  Don’t make a decision now. You are angry.

Take a day to ‘*cool off’ and then let’s talk about it again.  How does that sound?

 

*to cool off = to become calmer or more reasonable

 

 

You are also welcome to send me your answers/ideas or comments.

I will respond as soon as I can. :)

 

 

Have a good one! Try using this week’s English Tips!  

 

And as Meryl Streep says: “Never give up. Don't give up, don't give up.”

 

 

You can also watch and listen to the original interview and winning movie trailer at

http://celebrityenglish-alex.blogspot.com/2012_02_26_archive.html

 

 

 

 

 

Alex

Celebrity English

http://celebrityenglish-alex.blogspot.com/

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Tags: 84th, Academy, Actress, Advice, Alex, Awards, Best, CELTA, CelebrityEnglish, ESL, More…Giving, Iron, Lady, Lead, Merly, Oscars, Speaking, Streep, TEFL, TESL, The, Tip, blog, movie

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Mod
Comment by Nadiyah on March 4, 2012 at 13:03

You're unique, I like your style writing. Thanks again Alex!

Comment by Alex Graham on March 4, 2012 at 8:44

Oops! I made one mistake Teacher Ndiyah!

You are more creative than me!

Take care,

Alex

Comment by Alex Graham on March 4, 2012 at 8:35

Thank  you Nadiyah!

I feel the same about your teaching!

Alex


Mod
Comment by Nadiyah on March 4, 2012 at 7:28

You're a great teacher of English, Alex!

Always provide the best, your explanation easy to understand. Great lesson, thanks!

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