Learn English with English, baby!

Join for FREE!

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.

Go Super to Listen Go Super!

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

Go Super to Listen Go Super!

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.

3. Watch - Watch the video without reading the dialog.


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

Log in to Listen

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.


Grammar Point

Go Super to learn "Modal Verbs" from this lesson Go Super!


Go Super to take Quiz Go Super!


Lesson MP3

Go Super to download full lesson MP3 Go Super!

The iTEP® test

  • Schedule an iTEP® test and take the official English Practice Test.

    Take Now >


Go Super to Listen Go Super!

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?



Log in to Comment



Now, when you are a manager, you must be direct sometimes or must be little wishy-washy ; i think it's depend the situation in your company

06:59 PM Nov 16 2010 |



United States

i just think that my teacher is a wishy-washy .. but it doesn't mean that we don't respect her …..



thanks a lot ..  

04:27 PM Nov 16 2010 |



I am a school teacher and my boss(principle) is wishy-washy. We like him and do our work more heartly.


03:20 PM Nov 16 2010 |



my boss is extremely wishy-washy,he's almost a tyranny ,jk lol …i like his style to deal with us i think a good boss must be really wishy-washy …..

02:17 PM Nov 16 2010 |



I used to work for a female boss who was very wishy-washy. She was not very good at what she was doing. Some of the employees were better than she. I hate that kind of boss.

Myself is not very direct either. I am a chinese person and most of us are not  direct.

01:40 PM Nov 16 2010 |


Iran, Islamic Republic Of

very good

11:40 AM Nov 16 2010 |

Golden Lena

Russian Federation

My boss is not wishy-washy at all, she is so direct and sometimes she can intimidate us. Her behavior is not stable. Bur she is good boss.

10:20 AM Nov 16 2010 |

marjorie souza


vou tentar traduzir!

10:20 AM Nov 16 2010 |

bystander :-)


Thanks, all modal verbs together!! :D

in an easy understandable listening part thanked for the subtitle with stressed words.

(I should learn how to be wishy-washy, maybe…:) 

10:10 AM Nov 16 2010 |




   Aually,I'm a kinda direct guy.Still ,I'll talk to different people in different ways.As for the introvert people,who tend to be shy and quiet,I'll try to be wishy-washy,cuz I know they're sensitive and I don't wanna make them embarrassed or feel uncomfortable. While I'll talk to the outgoing guys directly ,to make it crystal clear what they must do and what is forbidden,for they won't buy the wishy-washy way of communication usually.



09:07 AM Nov 16 2010 |



my boss is direct.

08:03 AM Nov 16 2010 |



I don't like these employees. Actually, they should work if the boss wants something to be done even he or she being wishy-washy cos they are earning from employer.

* It is just his or her side without commanding directly. Not the case of employees.



03:34 AM Nov 16 2010 |




Sometimes we have to be wishy-washy, but a lot of time we must be direct.

However, all is right. A lot will depend on how we respond to the challenge.

After all, let us remember don't trouble trouble till trouble troubles us. Life is not always sweet and lovely party,  sometimes it is rough and tough. Do what we want and be happy one is what we should think about.

03:15 AM Nov 16 2010 |




dale is lazy

01:32 AM Nov 16 2010 |

Likes (15):

See all >

Share this lesson:

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Bebo
  • Share on Myspace
  • Share on Twitter
  • Email this to a friend
  • Share on Sina

Post Ebaby! lessons on your blog:

Ebaby! Cast