151. Google Questions

Luke answers some common auto-completed questions from Google.

Right-click here to download this episode.

Hi listeners. Do you know what “Google auto-complete” is?
You know when you start to google something, like maybe ‘why is Luke’s English Podcast so awesome?’ and when you type ‘why is’, Google completes your question with lots of options? Those options are ‘auto-completes’. It’s when Google predicts your search based on frequently asked searches. Try typing “why is” into Google. It will give you some options, like “why is the sky blue?”

Some auto-completes are quite fascinating, because they make you think “why are people asking these crazy questions?” or “that’s a good question – what’s the answer?” Some Google auto-completes are really deep, if you take the time to consider them.

Have a look at this graphic, which was produced by xkcd xkcd.com/1256/ It is a montage of auto-completed questions from Google. I also posted the image on Facebook recently, here.
Here’s a link to the Adweek.com article about women’s rights I mentioned too.

In this episode I decided to try giving my answers to these Google auto-complete questions.

You can listen to my answers in this episode, but I’m also interested in your opinions and your findings from google searches.

Your task while listening to this is to Google the questions and check the results. Are my answers correct? Leave a comment below to give me your opnions.

I hope you enjoy the episode.


  • Comment archive from Podomatic:
    Hi Luke and everyone!

    I came over your podcasts a few months ago, when they went by the number 127 and now I have finished all of them!

    Like other people said I find hard to understand English natives sometimes, but when I listen to you I can understand you almost if you were speaking my own language, it’s fantastic!

    Thank you very much for your podcasts Luke, they are perfect for self-learning. I’m learning a lot with them and enjoying at the same time with your sense of humour and your interesting stories.

    Greetings from Spain!

    (3 months ago)
    Nice episode Luke. To be honest, those “auto-completes” weren’t really that weird. The weirdest ones I can remember, after translation would be something like this:

    1. If I stand on the tracks and grab the wires, will I ride like a tram?
    2. How do you call a man who ate his mom and dad?

    Now try answering these. :)

    Zdenek Lukas (3 months ago)
    Thanks a lot, that’s what I thought. It’s tricky for me as well because grammar books say “going to for plans/ intentions (And I have always leaned towards the explanation that such plans/ intentions were thought through before in person’s mind somehow, prior to saying it), whereas will is clearly used for instant decisions. And this is not the first time I have been surprised by the actual usage of native speakers, which is far more liberal. I will try to remember what you said. Note to self: going to – more “self-assured” :) Thank you.

    (3 months ago)
    Hi Zdenek,
    Yep, the whole question of “going to” or “will” is a tricky one. The difference is really subtle. I find that ‘going to’ can be used in the same situations as ‘will’ a lot of the time. Why do I use it a lot for ‘instant decisions’? Maybe it sounds a little more self-assured than will, like there’s still some intention behind what I say even though I’mbasi cally deciding at that moment. I’m not sure that’s a satisfactory explanation though. I do find that generally I use “going to” a lot more than ‘will’. Luke

    Zdenek Lukas (3 months ago)
    Cheers for this episode. Very insightful and interesting explanations indeed.

    would like to ask one linguistic question if I may. It is nothing eart-shaking :) I have been trying to notice when Gonna is used and I always thought it is mainly used for plans and also sometimes for predictions based on some clear evidence (that kicking baby you spoke about for example would be a good proof) . But it seems that you use it a lot more even in cases I would (as a non-native) go for will as I learnt it is used for decisions at the time of speaking… I heard you say this many times (Now, I am gonna do this, Now I’m gonna pause or even I think I am gonna wrap this up etc…my understanding is that in informal English”gonna” (going to) can thus be used more freely to talk about the future, am I right? …because sometimes I find myself uncertain about what I should go for (will or gonna) and the way you use it in the podcast seems to be pretty natural.

    (3 months ago)
    You are the best teacher I have ever had Luke!
    Despite the fact that I am a fairly poor student I will do my best to make my little donation every month in order to encourage you to continue improving our English and I honestly HOPE THAT THE OTHERS WILL JOIN ME!
    Just a bit disappointed that you have not responded to my email though but I understand how busy you are.. :