Archive for October 31, 2010

idiom: to get the hang of something


The idiom for this week is to “get the hang of” something.  This expression is used when we want to talk about becoming skillful at something after starting to do it for the first time. For example:

I know chess can be hard, but I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it eventually.

I don’t think I’ll ever get the hang of this new computer software. It’s so confusing!

At first, speaking Japanese was really hard for me, but I got the hang of it after a little while.

My grandmother tried to teach my mom how to knit, but she never got the hang of it.

Hey, I’m think I’m actually getting the hang of this new video game! I just scored 10,000 points!

When we use this expression, we use either the past tense (I got the hang of it), future tense (I will get the hang of it) or present continuous tense (I’m getting the hang of it). We can’t use the simple present tense with this expression.

Also, if we use it in the negative, it’s very common to use the word “never”. Therefore, we often say “She never got the hang of it.” or “I’ll never get the hang of it.” However, if we use the present continuous, we don’t use the word “never”. So, we would say “I’m not getting the hang of this.” Note that we use the word “this” instead of “it” because it’s happening at that moment.

I know that English idioms can be hard, but I’m sure you’ll get the hang of using them if you study hard!

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