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A lecture about an experiment

Listen to the lecture about a science experiment to practise and improve your listening skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then listen to the audio and do the exercises.



Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


Hello, I have a question, I'm sorry if it is not related with the topic, it is about these two sentences:

1) We can either make an omelette or pancake
2) She can play either the guitar or the dumb at the concert.

As you can see, there's a different position for the word "either" in these sentences. In the first one "either" is located between the modal verb "can" and the verb "make" and in the second one "either" is located after the verb "play". Can I use those two structures if I want to a do sentence with a modal verb or auxiliary verb and a common verb or is there any difference between those structures? Thank you

Hello GiulianaAndy,

In these examples the position of either makes no difference. The action (play/make) remains the same and the instrument/dish is the option.


It's possible to use either to show a choice between actions. In this case either must come before the verb:

She can either play the guitar or sing a song.



The LearnEnglish Team

Yes, I do. I actually know one famous experiment, well a psychological experiment, it was execute in 1961. The general setup of this experiment was that the subject who has been assured payment would be told by an authority figure called the experimenter to give an electric shock punishment to a student when a wrong answer is given. The subject is aware that each wrong answer would have a progressively increased voltage.
What the subject doesn't know is that there is no electrical shock, the student is an actor, and the administrator is following a script.
It was found that despite the voltage getting to fatal levels with some simple prodding from the administrator around 2-3 of the subject continued pressing that bottom even when the student would scream and beg for mercy.

It demonstrates that the majority of these subjects have the "accomplishment" to become party to monstrous acts with the imperative of obeying authority annulling a personal sense of ethic.

Thank you for the detailed answer

I'm sorry, but for some unknown reason my comments are being erased. Am I asking off topic ?
I am just interested, why in the first sentence of the preparation task isn't used "was" before "given" ?

("Pitch is the name given to a black substance ..." vs "Pitch is the name was given to a black substance..."
Will it be incorrect If I use "was" ?

Could explain to me, why in the preparation task, in the first sentence, you didn't use "was" ?

(Pitch is the name given to a black substance..... Pitch is the name
was given to a black substance .....)

Thanks a lot for your feedback

Hello lean,

This is an example of a reduced relative clause. The full wording of this is 'Pitch is the name that is given to a black substance ...' We often remove the relative pronoun ('that') and auxiliary verb 'is') in speaking and writing. 

It is possible to say 'was given' instead of 'is given', but since people still use the word 'pitch' this way, the present simple makes more sense.

Don't worry, we haven't been deleting your comments. It's just that we check all comments before they are published, which means that it can take some hours for them to appear on the site, especially on the weekends when we don't check them quite as often.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

I had study about Newton's experiment. He saw a apple falling from a tree then he asked himself why is a apple falling from tree. He invented gravity law.

I know the experiments done by Marie Curie and I think are wonderful. She and her hasband did many developments about radiactivity and found out two elements and they helped to development of the medicine advance en the fields like cancer treatment and radiology.

I know one. Actually it is not as scientific as the pitch drop thing, but it has a deeper meaning to mass production and the quality of goods produced.

Have you heard of the light bulb invented by Thomas Edison? Yes, the forefather of all obsolete lightbulbs that only last 1000 hrs. There is a centennial light still burning at Livermore Fire Station No 6 in California. And it was lit in 1901. This bulb however is not quite exactly, what Edison came up with, but the manufacturing was patented by a French engineer.