Saturday, March 12, 2011

Song lesson - 'She's got issues' by the Offspring

This song is rich in contemporary expressions to do with relationships and personal psychology, such as: to have issues, baggage, closure, validation, as well as alluding to possible past incest. It also has some interesting verb phrases and a couple of grammar points.
  1. Pre-listening vocabulary matching exercises
  2. Lyrics gapfill exercises
  3. Grammar exercises 1 - if type questions
    Grammar exercises 2 - constructions with I wish and if only

Click and Drop - Wherever you see this symbol mouse over it for instructions.

1. Vocabulary

Pre 1a. Note how these nouns are used in context

a. baggageWe all carry a lot of emotional baggage around with us.
b. closureAt last she feels a sense of closure and can start a new chapter in her life.
c. validationHe's so lacking in self-confidence, he's always looking for validation.
d. shitThat's just a load of old shit.
e. victimWe appear to have been the victims of a cruel practical joke.
f. choreI find writing reports a real chore (= very boring)

Pre 1b. Match the nouns above with their definitions below

1. (here) rubbish, nonsense
2. (here) someone who has been hurt, damaged by someone else
3. a job or piece of work which is often boring or unpleasant but needs to be done regularly
4. the approval of others
5. the feeling or act of bringing an unpleasant situation, time or experience to an end, so that you are able to start new activities
6. the beliefs and feelings that you have which influence how you think and behave

Pre 2a. Note how these adjectives and adjectivals are used in context

a. out of your mindI'd go out of my mind if I had to do her job all day!
b. messed upShe was really messed-up as a teenager.
c. insensitiveIt was a bit insensitive of Fiona to go on so much about fat people when she knows Mandy is desperate to lose weight.
d. controllingShe's so controlling, she won't even let him go out for a drink with the lads now and then.
e. co-dependentGirl 1: I need a boyfriend, I'm worthless without one, I'm ugly
Girl 2: You're so co-dependent

Pre 2b. Match the adjectivals above with their definitions below

1. needing to have a partner or a significant other in order for your life to feel complete.
2. trying to limit yours partner's actions, especially when you feel insecure in a relationship
3. not feeling or showing sympathy for other people's feelings, or refusing to give importance to something
4. unhappy and emotionally confused
5. unable to behave or deal with things normally because something has made you very worried, unhappy or angry

Pre 3a. Note how these verbs and verbal expressions are used in context

a. abandonAs a baby he'd been abandoned by his mother.
b. draw the lineI swear quite a lot but even I draw the line at saying certain words.
c. commit5 Reasons Why Guys Are Scared to Commit! (magazine article)
d. take it out on sbShe's always taking it out on me
e. drag sb downDon't let them drag you down
f. get it onI wish you'd look at me occasionally when we're getting it on

Pre 3b. Match the expressions above with their definitions below

1. blame sb and get angry with them
2. have sex
3. to point out a limit for tolerable behaviour
4. decide that you want to have a real relationship with this person, and only them.
5. to force (sb) into a bad situation, condition or make them unhappy
6. to leave a place, thing or person

2. The song

I've divided the song into two gapfill exercises to make it a bit more manageable. Do the two exercises and then look at the grammar points. Finally you can check it all out on YouTube.

Song Part 1 - fill the gaps using the words in the box

date   ·   victim   ·   emotional   ·   closure   ·   pay   ·   insensitive   ·   issues   ·   abandoned   ·   out of her mind   ·   shit
I'm seeing this girl and she just might be
Well she's got baggage and it's all the kind
She talks about and that validation bit
I don't mean to be , but I really hate that
And I said yeah, yeah
Oh man she's got
And I'm gonna
Yeah, yeah
She thinks she's the
Now I know she'll feel
If I don't stay over late
And I know she's afraid to commit
But it's only our second

Song Part 2 - fill the gaps using the words in the box

life   ·   draw the line   ·   drag   ·   check   ·   controlling   ·   co-dependent   ·   messed   ·   wouldn't   ·   follow   ·   nonstop
Chorus repeats
I don't know why you're up
I don't know why your whole is a chore
Just do me a favor
And your baggage at the door
Now she talks about her ex , but I don't mind
But when she calls out his name in bed
That's where I
You told me a hundred times how your father left and he's gone
But I wish you call me daddy
When we're gettin' it on
Chorus repeats
If you think I'm
Then why do you me around
If you're not
Then why do you let others you down
I don't know why you're ... etc (verse repeats)

A little bit of grammar 1. if type questions

In the last verse we looked at there are two if clause questions:
  • If you think I'm ... then why do you ...
  • If you're not ... then why do you let others ...
These 'conditional' questions, where if means if it is true / the case that, don't follow the conditional 'types' (1, 2, 3 etc) but rather just use normal tenses. I looked at some similar constructions (if you thought that, you thought wrong etc) in an earlier post.

Exercise 1a Complete the gaps and check 1a

Exercise 1b Match the beginnings and check 1b

seaside   ·   supper   ·   serious   ·   door   ·   going out   ·   laugh   ·   dangerous   ·   shellfish   ·   glasses   ·   Spain   ·   that   ·   married
1. If he's not about youa)why are you getting all dressed up?
2. If you're not tonightb)why don't you go out with him?
3. If she knew that he was c)then who rang the bell?
4. If he's such a good d)why did they go there?
5. If they'd known the place was so e)then why do you spend so much time with him?
6. If you're allergic to f)where did you have them last?
7. If there was nobody at the g)then why didn't you say so?
8. If you already knew h)what time is the train?
9. If she's in i)how do you prefer them?
10. If you can't find your j)who's looking after her dog?
11. If we have eggs for k)what did you ask me for?
12. If we go to the tomorrowl)why did she go out with him?

A little bit of grammar 2. I wish

In one line we have a phrase with I wish:
But I wish you ....... call me daddy
Exercise 2. Look at these sentences and then complete the rules
  • I wish you would help more around the house.
  • I wish I had more time to spend with the family.
  • I really wish I hadn't drunk so much last night.
1. You regret (are sorry about) a present situation
Form: I wish I +
This is related to
2. You regret a past action or situation
Form: I wish I +
This is related to
3. You want somebody to do (or not to do) something
Form: I wish + person +
This is related to


  1. We can use if only instead of I wish when we want to add extra emphasis.
  2. When we are talking about present regrets we can use the subjunctive I were, he were etc. instead of I was, he was etc. In EFL teaching they are considered equally correct, but in some (more formal or traditional) environments some people might prefer the subjunctive.
  3. When we are talking about somebody's behaviour, the use of I wish + would usually expresses annoyance, impatience or disappointment.
  4. We can also use the I wish + would construction to talk about the 'behaviour' of things like machines and the weather.

Exercise 3 - Fill the gaps using the verbs in the box in a suitable form .

  • Type the verbs into the gaps (no click and drop here)
  • You will have to make some of the verbs negative, depending on context
  • Use was rather than were where there's a choice. This is informal English.
  • Use contractions wouldn't, wasn't and hadn't where appropriate, but no others.
  • You can click on the words in the box to cross them out. Click again to undo.
say   ·   be   ·   live   ·   buy   ·   book   ·   be   ·   smoke   ·   be
speak   ·   be   ·   keep   ·   make   ·   stop   ·   take   ·   be
1.I wish you after every course. It's a disgusting habit.
2.I wish we into that other hotel. This one's a dump, but it's too late now.
3.If only it raining. It's been like this all day.
4.Don't you just sometimes wish that you better life choices when you were younger?
5.Do you wish you younger, or are you happy as you are?
6.He wishes he French as well as he speaks Spanish.
7.If only I so mean to her last year. Then she might still be speaking to me.
8.I wish we somewhere warmer. Italy would be nice, for example.
9.If only everything in life as reliable as a Volkswagen. (ad)
10.She really wishes she the things she did last night.
11.If only he me flowers once in a while. Or perhaps something a little more risqué, even.
12.I wish I more interest in grammar when I was at school.
13.Well, I wish I in New Orleans. (Tom Waits)
14.I have to get up so early these days. If only my new job so far away.
15.I wish my computer freezing just when I'm in the middle of something important.
You will need to watch the video on YouTube, as Vevo won't let me embed it. This should open in another tab, so you can listen and still look at the lyrics on this tab if you want to.

Answers to the exercises - click on an appropriate button then return to the exercise to see the answers


Links - I wish / if only

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