In today’s podcast we meet the English expression “I could do with…”
“I could do with…” is an indirect way of saying “I need…” If I say “I could do with” something, it means “I need” something.
So, if I say to my teenage son, “You could do with a haircut“, I mean “Your hair is too long and you need to get it cut”.
One more thing before we start. The expression always uses the conditional “could” form of the verb. We always say “I could do with..”, and never “I can do with..” OK?
It is the weekend. Kevin’s plans include an afternoon in front of the television watching football.
Joanne however has other ideas. “The house could do with cleaning“, she says. “I will start on the kitchen now, but this afternoon I could do with some help.”
Kevin protests that he wants to watch the football. “United could do with a win today,” he adds. Joanne says that United will win even if he does not watch them play. “We could do with some more floor cleaner,” she says. “Please could you go to the shops and buy some.”
So Kevin walks to the shops while Joanne sets to work, cleaning the kitchen. Kevin returns about twenty minutes later, a little out of breath. “I could do with a rest,” he says. And he sits down on a chair and watches Joanne cleaning the floor.
“Kevin, you are out of breath because you are too fat,” says Joanne. “You could do with losing some weight.”
“What?” says Kevin, horrified.
“Yes. You could do with going swimming twice a week, or going to the gym.”
An idea comes into Kevin’s mind. At the gym, they have a cafe with a TV set. He could go to the gym, and watch the football on television instead of exercising.
“You’re right,” says Kevin, “I could do with some exercise. I’ll go to the gym this afternoon.”
“Nice try, Kevin,” says Joanne. “You can stay here and do some exercise at home. The carpet could do with vacuuming, and the lawn could do with being mowed.”
Three hours later, Kevin and Joanne are sitting on the sofa. They are exhausted, but the house is clean and tidy for the first time in weeks. “I could do with a drink,” says Joanne, “and I could do with something to eat.”
“I’m tired,” says Kevin. “I could do with a shower and an early night.”
And as for me, I could do with a holiday. So I am going to Germany next week, but I will be back with a new Listen to English podcast on about 5 June.
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