Archive for September, 2011

phrasal verb: go around

This week, I’d like to teach you another phrasal verb. This time it’s the expression “go around”. In English, this has three different meanings:

1. for an illness to be passed from person to person (usually a cold or the flu). For example:

I caught a bad cold on Sunday. You’d better be careful. It’s going around these days.

A bad case of the flu is going around right now, so I’m worried that I’ll catch it.

2. for something to be circulated (often a rumor). For example:

There’s a rumor going around that you and Peter are dating. Is it true?

You shouldn’t believe every rumor that goes around this office. Most of them aren’t true.

3. to have enough of something for everyone in a group. For example:

There aren’t enough test paper to go around, so we’ll have to photocopy some more.

I don’t think there’s enough cake to go around. I should have bought a bigger one.

the difference between words: aggressive and assertive

Today one of my students got mixed up between the words “aggressive” and “assertive”, so that’s what I’d like to write about this week.

If we say someone is “aggressive”, it sounds like the person is extremely forceful and could possibly be dangerous or violent. However, if we say someone is “assertive”, it means that they will say what they think strongly or will try to get what they want, but it doesn’t sound like they are violent or dangerous. Here are some examples:

I don’t like Jerry when he’s drunk because he gets really aggressive. Last time, he started a fight with another guy.

My brother is a really aggressive driver, so I hate being in the car when he’s driving.

If you want to get a raise from your boss, you should be more assertive. If I were you, I’d just ask my boss for the raise directly.

Pam is a very successful salesperson because she’s smart, charming and assertive.

In my third example sentence, I talked about “a raise”. This word means a salary increase.

So, the word “aggressive” is very negative, but the word “assertive” is positive. Please be careful not to call someone “aggressive” if you want to say something positive about them. In those cases, you should always use the word “assertive”.

grammatical expression: when pigs fly


Today’s expression is “when pigs fly”, and it is used when we want to say that something is never going to happen or that we have no intention at all of doing something. For example:

A: When are you going to finally go out with me?

B: When pigs fly! I’m never going to be your girlfriend!


A: I think you should vote for Bill Richards.

B: I’ll vote for him when pigs fly. I hate that guy!


A: My husband made dinner for me last night. It was so romantic.

B: Unfortunately, my husband will do that for me when pigs fly. I wish my husband were more like yours.

This expression means “never” because pigs will never be able to fly. So if someone asks you when you will do something and you know you will never do it, this expression can be very useful. However, you should be aware that it’s a little strong when said directly to a person asking you a question. In the first example, person B is not being polite because she doesn’t like the guy who is asking her for a date and she wants him to leave her alone.

%d bloggers like this: