Archive for October, 2014

idiom: to break the ice


For this blog entry, I want to write about the expression, “break the ice”. We use it when we want to talk about a situation in which we are meeting a new person or people for the first time and we do something in order to feel more comfortable with them. Here are some example sentences.

I’m going to tell a joke at the start of my speech to break the ice with the audience.

I feel really uncomfortable when meeting new people. What should I do to break the ice?

The teacher had everyone in the class play a game in order to break the ice.

A: I think a good way to break the ice with someone is to ask them a lot of questions.
B: I’m not so sure. I think that could make them feel even more uncomfortable.

This expression can be used to talk about many types of situations in which people are meeting for the first time: a person speaking in front of a large group, two people meeting for the first time on a blind date, a group of people meeting for the first time for a class or job situation, etc.

There are also various ways to break the ice: asking questions, telling jokes, telling a personal story, playing a game, etc.

In this expression, the “ice” represents the feeling of discomfort that comes with meeting new people for the first time. When we “break” that ice, we are removing the feeling of discomfort and then the relationship can begin in a better way.

grammatical expression: to not get one’s hopes up


Today I’d like to write about another expression that we often use in daily conversation: to “not get one’s hopes up”. We use this when we want to talk about a situation in which a person wants something to happen. However, there is a strong possibility it won’t happen, so someone else encourages them to expect that it won’t happen. Here are some example sentences:

A: I hope they don’t cancel my favorite show.
B: I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were you. The ratings for that show are really bad.

I was disappointed by Bob when he told me he’d take me out this weekend. I shouldn’t let him get my hopes up like that.

A: Valerie said she’d help me move.
B: Don’t get your hopes up. She always agrees to help people, but then she doesn’t.

Don’t tell Sue you can take her to Disneyland if you’re not sure. I don’t want you to get her hopes up.

My last sentence is an example of to “not get someone’s hopes up”. In this case, one person is telling another person directly not to make promises to someone else if there is a chance they will not be able to do the thing.

We can also use this expression to talk about ourselves when we let ourselves think something will happen that probably won’t happen. In this case, we say something like, “I let him get my hopes up.” This means that the person was disappointed even though they knew it might not happen. My second sentence is another example of this.

As you can see, this expression is usually used in the negative because it’s always describing a negative situation in which the good event probably won’t happen or didn’t happen.

We commonly use this expression with “don’t” or “I wouldn’t…if I were you”. In these cases, another person is giving a warning to the person to be prepared for a negative situation.

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