Archive for October, 2011

intransitive phrasal verb: nod off

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Today, I’d like to teach the phrasal verb “nod off”. This is used when we want to talk about a person who falls asleep while they’re doing something. For example:

My brother got into a car accident because he nodded off while he was driving.

I nodded off in the theater, so I missed the end of the movie.

The meeting was so boring that I kept nodding off while the boss was speaking.

This phrasal verb is intransitive which means that it doesn’t take an object in the sentence.

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adjective: slow

Signs Warning of Approaching Curve

Today I’d like to write about a common adjective, “slow”. This is another example of a word that has other meanings that many people don’t know about. Of course, the main meaning is for a thing or a person to take a long time to move, but I’d like to go over its other meanings today.

1. for a period of time to not be very active. For example:

I had a slow day today. I just read a book and cleaned up my apartment.

I’m worried that the years after my retirement will be really slow.

2. for a company or store to not have many customers. For example:

Business has been very slow recently. We have to find a way to attract more customers.

It’s a slow night at the bar tonight because it’s a Tuesday. It will get busier on Friday and Saturday nights.

3. for a clock or watch to be behind the real time. For example:

Is it really 4:00 now or is that clock slow?

My watch is a little slow. Can you tell me what time it is?

4. for a person to have trouble understanding something which is easier for other people. For example:

My brother is a little slow when it comes to math.

The students in this class aren’t stupid. They’re just slower than the other students in the school.

grammatical expression: look on the bright side

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Today I have another grammatical expression for you that is often used in English: “look on the bright side”. We use this when there is a negative situation, but we want someone to focus on a positive aspect that this situation has created. For example:

A: I had to work overtime every night this week!

B: Well, look on the bright side. Your paycheck this month will be a lot higher.

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A: I lost my job, so I had to move back in with my parents.

B: Look on the bright side. At least you don’t have to cook your own meals right now.

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A: I’m sick with the flu and I can’t go to work today!

B: Well, look on the bright side. You can relax at home for a day or two.

So, as you can see from my examples, we use this expression as a response to another person’s complaint about their situation. We usually say it as a way to try to make people feel better about their negative situation.

idiom: to play with fire

Christine-Playing-with-Fire

Today I’d like to teach you another idiom: to “play with fire”.  We use this expression when we want to talk about a person who is doing something that could lead to a negative or dangerous result. For example:

You’re dating two girls at the same time? I think you’re playing with fire. If they find out, you’ll lose both of them.

You’re playing with fire if you go into business with Carl. He’s got a really bad reputation.

A: I take drugs sometimes, but I’m not addicted.

B: I think you’re playing with fire. If you keep taking them, you’ll get addicted.

People who buy products from ABC Company are playing with fire. That company has had so many problems with product safety.

The first two sentences are examples of a negative result and the last two are examples of a dangerous result. As you can see from all the examples, we almost always use the present continuous tense (am/is/are +ing) with this idiom.

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