From Seinfeld

JERRY: I don’t really feel that comfortable with a maid, either, because there’s that guilt when you have someone cleaning your house. You know, you’re sitting there on your sofa, and they go by with the vacuum, “I’m really sorry about this. I don’t know why I left that stuff over there.” And that’s why I [color=red]could never be a maid, because I’d have that attitude. I’d find [color=red]them, wherever [color=red]they are in the house, “Oh, I suppose you [color=red]couldn’t do this? No, don’t get up, let me clean up your filth. No, you [color=red]couldn’t dust. No, this is too tough, isn’t it?”


  1. Can the word “could” be replaced by “can”? If it can, what’s the difference here?
  2. Can “couldn’t” be replaced by “can’t”? What’s the difference here?
  3. What does “them” mean? And what about “they”?


  1. I could never be a maid… conditional. Seinfeld is NEVER going to be in a position where he may really have to consider being a maid, so ‘could’ is better than ‘can’.

  2. Here the house owner uses ‘couldn’t’ instead of ‘can’ as a polite request or as sarcasm (depending on how it is said). ‘Can’t’ wouldn’t actually make as much sense. Think about it. Imagine an employee saying to a cleaner. You can’t dust’. They would be forbidding the person from doing the work!

  3. I’d find the house owners, whenever the house owners are in the house.

Again, this is informal dialogue and does not always reflect best grammar usage.


You know what? Informal dialogue seems to me much more fun. It doesn’t just give me knowledge, it shows a different kind of life to me. And all languages come from life. If there was no informal dialogue, I would not learn any languges in the first place.

I would like to feel the way you feel when you speak your languge, things that you take for granted, he he.

Thanks again.

You are a great coach, by the way. Take care.

I appreciate your sentiments S&S, but it is difficult to explain some informal language logically, which is why I point out that it doesn’t follow the usual rules. As long as you can live with the fact that sometimes there won’t be logical answers, that’s fine.

Dear Beeesneees,

You really don’t need to try to give me any logical explanations if it’s hard to do it. You could just tell me what you feel when you hear it or use it; which is wrong and which is right; which is natural and which is not; or just make up a short dialogue to show how it would be used in real conversation.

So far, you are doing a greal job. Keep it up :smiley: