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Wishy-Washy with Modal Verbs
Wishy-Washy with Modal Verbs English, baby! Video Lesson

Learn English modal verbs

Date: Nov 16 2010

Themes: Soap Opera, Work

Grammar: Modal Verbs


1. Learn Vocabulary - Learn some new vocabulary before you start the lesson.

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2. Read and Prepare - Read the introduction and prepare to hear the audio.

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It can be hard to ask for what you want. Sometimes, if you’re too direct, you can frighten people or intimidate them. But if you’re not direct enough, you can risk being wishy-washy.

Someone who is wishy-washy does not act with authority. Politicians are often accused of being wishy-washy if they won’t take a stand on a certain issue. Similarly, a good boss is usually not wishy-washy. No one would call Marni wishy-washy, but watch how Devan acts with her employees.

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1. Listen and Read - Listen to the audio and read the dialog at the same time.

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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.







Devan:  Hey guys! How’s it going?

Dale:  Hey!

Ella:  It’s going!

Devan:  Are you enjoying your break? Well, I just got these invoices and I was thinking you might want to get to them, after you go back to work after your break? You know, maybe you could get those off for me? Maybe? Does that sound like something you could do? Because we probably should, you know, maybe?

Ella:  We might?

Dale:  We might…Are you saying we should do these…invoices, get to them? Or…

Devan:  You could say that.

Ella:  Must we do it? I mean, what’s the priority level here?

Devan:  I would say that you probably should, if you can. Maybe. OK? Alright.

Dale:  Thank you.

Devan:  Thank you.

Ella:  Huh.

Dale:  Don’t you think she’s a wishy-washy boss?

Ella:  Yeah, she’s a little more passive compared to Marni, who’s very in your face, direct, she knows what she wants, makes sure you get your job done.

Dale:  Yeah, Marni wasn’t wishy-washy at all. “You must do this. You have to do this. You should do this.”

Ella:  It works, though, you know? Compared to Marni, I like this type of work atmosphere. Goes well for me.

Dale:  She didn’t really say we must do it.

Ella:  She didn’t. I mean, we might? But she didn’t make it seem so important.

Dale:  OK, until we get to the must, I won’t do it.

Ella:  Yeah. That sounds good.


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Devan needs Ella and Dale to do some work, but she doesn’t make it seem very important. She doesn’t tell them to do it now or tell them when she needs it. She’s being a little wishy-washy.

Dale and Ella decide to take this opportunity to continue taking a break. They’ll do the work Devan needs only when they absolutely must. They like this style of leadership better than Marni’s more direct approach because it enables them to slack off.

Is your boss wishy-washy or direct? Which are you?



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United States

Being a modal is fun some times.


01:08 PM May 12 2015 |




I think if your company didn’t make any profit it should be liquidated.

08:50 AM Oct 18 2011 |

1 person likes this




my boss is not wishy-washy…but anyway i don’t feel myself uncomfortable working with him. maybe it because of i do my work at once as soon as i was said about it, because till i finish my work i can’t relax so i prefer the first to finish my work.

sometimes, of course, i becomes lazy :) at such times i just hope to my lucky not to  be asked about the work he told me ;) 

08:45 AM Oct 18 2011 |

1 person likes this




I don’t have a boss but my friend is really wishy washy boy lol.

07:54 AM Oct 18 2011 |

1 person likes this


Viet Nam

i'm sucker. if i have boss wishy washy. i think i don't work harder. my company never make  profit . 

03:32 AM Mar 29 2011 |

1 person likes this



Syrian Arab Republic

I do not have a boss up to now…Emm,to me i'd rather everything to be in moderation,so,a boss should not be NAMBY-PAMBY,nor WILLY-NILLY especially when giving orders and instructions,because his staff will take the opportunity by being HOITY-TOITY,this scenario might drives whatever the firm or the company to such a mess.We could get the roles done in a TOPSY-TURVY way,when a boss yields to staff orders;lol;exaggerated in last one ;) ... A boss should not be that though,nor that cheeky leader too ….


A-Well,i am really SHILLY-SHALLY how can i describe my self.. ¦¬þ

11:03 PM Mar 12 2011 |

1 person likes this




 Wow, where all these guys come from ? How come that they are not in hollywood making millions .I agree with Lenny80a, Devan besides being a sweetie, she is  a incredible actress

06:35 PM Mar 12 2011 |



SmileLol,  very funny, hilarious, Devan you are a fantastic actress! Wishy-washy, it's sound good…I'm rather in your face… I take a stand to be franky, but honest, more like a work atmosphere. Privacy, I am not a wishy-washy person….

05:57 PM Mar 12 2011 |

1 person likes this


El Salvador

i dont like this lesson

08:47 PM Jan 25 2011 |




Mabye she should direct for someone .

03:31 AM Nov 28 2010 |



very good lesson

07:13 PM Nov 22 2010 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

i agree with Michael2004

it depends on the situation .

sometimes we need to be wishy-washy and sometimes  be a direct person

08:51 AM Nov 22 2010 |

1 person likes this


Iran, Islamic Republic Of

It was great !

05:08 AM Nov 22 2010 |




if i were dale , i order daven to get  back to her cheir , bcs i am taking a break with ella. heheheh


02:08 AM Nov 22 2010 |

1 person likes this

charming princess

Saudi Arabia

i love wishy-washy bosses. I do not like someone giving orders to me. I am not like Dale. If  someone asks me in a gentle way to do something, i would do it right away. I do not wait for someone to be too direct with me in order for me to do what he wants . I hate lazy workers too ! In my work, I am the boss in the department. I would not not call myself wishy-washy. I would call myself civil and respectful. I would like to create a good atmosphere at work, not to intimidate people.

01:32 PM Nov 20 2010 |

1 person likes this

verde caramelle


My boss is kind of wishy-washy. He doesn't seem to know how to ask things to his subordinates. To me, I try to be direct because I think we should tell or ask something to someone directly at work not to cause misunderstandings each other.

08:02 AM Nov 20 2010 |



These lessons are good, congratulations for the quality of English immersion.

02:18 AM Nov 19 2010 |



The fact is Devan isn't confident enough. Marni let people know what to do.She is setting priorities and deadlines. It's good for a company. Usually wishy-waschy boss isn't respected.I would like a direct boss like a Marni.

09:59 PM Nov 17 2010 |




My boss is not a wishy-washy, me either. He has never said that you must to do, but he would say you might get in troulbe if you don't do it. It may not be a bad thing to have a direct boss, because you cann't be lazy and will know which things you have to do.

12:21 AM Nov 17 2010 |

1 person likes this




Sometimes i think i was a wishy washly i hate this my boss is a direct man when i know the day what i want i will be a boss

12:02 AM Nov 17 2010 |

1 person likes this

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