Learn To Speak English The Smart Way
This English language lesson is all about the use of the word "Smart" in the UK. It's an over-used word and as a result, depending on the context of using the word, smart grows ever more complicated.
Just for fun lets come up with a sentence using smart that shows off how flexible the word has become. You will need to listen to the English podcast lesson to understand this sentence!
"It would be smart to wear smart clothes to your smart objective setting meeting today. Don't forget to set a reminder on your smart phone it would not be smart to arrive late. We both know it would smart if your boss said you had failed last years smart goals."
Hi there, I’m Hilary and welcome to Adept English. This is our Monday podcast, so it’s slightly longer than our Thursday podcast. If you’ve not used Adept English before, then listen to this podcast a number of times, to practise your understanding of spoken English. Also this week, make sure that you listen to the podcast right through to the end. If you’re a regular listener, there will be something which may be of interest to you, at the end of the podcast.
So, this week’s podcast. Well, I was thinking about the podcast I made last week – the one about Smart Motorways in the UK. I hope that was useful to you because it gave you vocabulary around motorways and driving. But I hope it was useful too, because you may be thinking of visiting the UK and it’s good to know about the motorways – you don’t want any problems! So I was thinking about the word ‘smart’, S-M-A-R-T - and how it is typical of many English words in that we use the same word in different ways. So first of all, let’s talk about ‘smart’ when it’s used as an adjective.
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Smart motorway is not just a catchy driving phrase for UK drivers
So last weekend, when we were travelling, what I noticed was the number of motorways in the UK, which have road works on them, mainly because they are being converted to ‘Smart Motorways’. So first of all, some vocabulary here. If we talk about a motorway in the UK, we mean the really fast roads – the ones where the speed limit is 70 miles per hour. For the Europeans amongst you, remember of course that we’re in miles not kilometres and therefore so are the speed limits. You’ll know when you’re on a motorway in the UK, because all the road signs are blue and the signs are very consistent. They look the same on all motorways, just with different place names on of course. You’re not allowed to drive on the motorways if you’re a learner driver. And except for a couple of short stretches, the motorways in the UK are all free. So unlike the French péage, or the German Autobahn – there are no tolls, there’s no money to pay.
So the motorway network in the UK is very good. There are motorways which allow you to access most areas of the country. However, the traffic is the problem – there are just such a lot of cars on the road.
You can dress smart, be smart, own something smart. Be hurt and smart, both physically and mentally. There is a lot of flexibility in the word smart and its meaning
So last week in the podcast, I said to you that ‘smart’ in the context of ‘smart motorways’ means clever, more intelligent use of motorways. And that in American English, smart really means the same as clever, intelligent. And this use has been adopted into UK English as well. So that if you said that a child was smart – you’d mean the same, they’re intelligent, they do well at school.
Smart is also one of those words, which has been adopted by business and by marketing departments in businesses. So if you think of the word smartphone. You probably have one of these – you may even be listening to this podcast on your smartphone! So what makes your phone smart? Well, of course, it does so much more than a simple mobile phone – or cell phone, if you’re using US English.
You’ve got internet access, you may be able to record videos or voice recordings on your phone, you can send email. It may function as your storage device for your photographs, it may be your satellite navigation system, your calculator. It may record how fast you run, how many steps you take each day, how you sleep. So yes, it’s an intelligent phone, an intelligent device. And different from phones a few years ago which were just used for calls and text messages.
You will find lots of smart goal examples in modern UK workplace
Similarly in your house, you might have a ‘smart meter’. So a meter, M-E-T-E-R is the instrument, the device that say measures how much gas or electricity you use in your house. So if you’ve got a smart meter, it means that it doesn’t just give you a meter reading, so that your bill can be calculated. No, a smart meter will tell you how much electricity or gas you’re using right now. So if you have a smart meter, you can see when you are using a lot of gas, or a lot of electricity. And maybe it helps you cut down, maybe helps you reduce how much you use. All homes in the UK must be offered smart meters by 2020, apparently.
In business, the word smart is often used to mean efficient, effective. So it’s quite common to talk about having ‘smart objectives’. An objective is the word that your manager might use for your goals at work, what you’re aiming at. So ‘SMART objectives’, S-M-A-R-T of course, means that your goals are defined by SMART as an acronym. So each of the letters in the word ‘smart’ stands for something, to remind you how to define good objectives, good goals in your job. So the meaning varies from business to business, but S usually stands for specific – so your goals, your objectives must be clear, specific, named, defined. M in SMART usually stands for ‘measurable’ - so meaning that it has to be something you can measure, you can measure what you’ve done and you’ve been successful. A in SMART can stand for ‘attainable’ or ‘achievable’- so it’s got to be something that it’s possible to achieve this goal. It mustn’t be an impossible objective. The R in SMART objectives usually stands for realistic or relevant or results, or something like that.
As I say, it tends to vary from company to company, business to business. And lastly, the T in SMART objectives usually means something around time. So there is a measurable deadline, there’s a time, by which you’re expected to have achieved the objective. So for many of you, who’re working or going to be working in an English speaking company of any size. there’s a fair chance you will come across the idea of SMART objectives.
The S.M.A.R.T acronym is an easy way to remember the smart objectives definition
What are the other meanings of the word ‘smart’? Well, the original meaning in UK English, before it meant clever – smart means well-dressed, well-groomed. If you’re smart, it means that you’ve taken care of your appearance. If you’re going to a job interview, or a wedding, or a funeral for that matter, then you would probably want to dress smartly. You’d have a bath, do your hair, put on a suit or a dress.
Sometimes in the UK, we say ‘What’s the dress code?’ The dress code means what are we expected to wear? How should we be dressed? And sometimes the answer would be smart – the dress code would be ‘smart’. And sometimes the dress code might be ‘smart-casual’. And sometimes the dress code would be ‘casual’. ‘Casual’ means that you can wear whatever clothes you want. ‘Smart’ means you’ve got to take some trouble over your appearance and wear nice things. And ‘smart-casual’? Well, that can be a bit difficult to get right – it’s somewhere in between.
Some businesses, some companies might say that if you’re working for them, you can dress in ‘smart casual’. This usually means no jeans, but you don’t necessarily have to wear interview style clothes. So the dress code ‘smart casual’ - it can be hard to get right!
Smart goals, meaning clever objectives are a real "buzzword" in education
So that’s another meaning of the word smart – smartly dressed. And the final meaning of the word smart, which you may not know. It’s also a verb - ‘to smart’. So nothing to do with other meanings of the word smart, when it’s used as an adjective. The verb ‘to smart’ means the same as ‘to hurt’. If something smarts, it’s a particular kind of hurt, a particular kind of pain. If you remember when you were a child, and you might have fallen over and hurt your knee – there might be blood even. And you probably go into your house, and a family member, maybe your mum, sorts out your hurt knee. Usually this involves your hurt knee being cleaned – which is probably going to hurt. So in the UK, we might use TCP, or Savlon or Germolene for a hurt knee. And as this is done, well, OUCH - it’s going to smart! It’s going to hurt. Another time when we might use the word ‘to smart’ to mean to hurt – if you cut your finger, say when you were cutting lemons, or onions – and the lemon juice or the onion juice got into the cut on your finger. OUCH! That would smart too! So it’s a particular kind of pain.
When we use the verb ‘to smart’ to mean to hurt, it can also refer to an emotional hurt. So if someone criticises you, says negative things about you, it may be sometimes, you don’t mind, you don’t particularly care. But if one of the negative things that they say, one of the criticisms does bother you – we might say ‘it smarted’ or that you were left ‘smarting’ over what the person said. It might feel a bit like lemon juice in a cut! So that is ‘to smart’.
So here are some sentences using the word ‘smart’:-
- My grandmother was a really smart cookie
- It really smarted when my boss said that I wasn’t ready for promotion
- You need to dress smartly for the restaurant
- When I cut my finger chopping onions, it really smarted
- The dress code for the corporate away day is ‘smart casual’
OK – so there’s a bit more to the word ‘smart’ that just meaning clever. I hope that’s useful to you.
Now, I said to make sure that you listen right til the end of the podcast. So now just a word about our discount code that we gave out last week. Well done if you used the discount code to get 25% off our courses – so that’s Course One or the 500 Most Common Words Course – or both. Well, we said we would do this for September. So here I am again with another discount code for this next week. This will be for the week until midnight on 16th September. So this week’s discount code, if you want to get 25% off our courses is ‘’SMART154’. That’s capital letters, S-M-A-R-T. SMART154
Enough for now, have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
Having explored the flexibility of the meaning of the English word smart we have learned that smart has many uses in the English language. As an English language student I would not blame you if you avoided using smart.
However, with "smarts" popularity in everyday English you will come across the use of the word smart at least once a day, so it would be best to understand the more popular uses and meanings of smart.
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