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Smile - it's newsletter time! 012  John Finley
 Jan 01, 2002 03:00 PST 
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John Finley's Learn English newsletter      
Tuesday 01 January 2002     2002    Issue No. 012


1.   Welcome
2.   Idioms
3.   Subscribe/Unsubscribe information
4.   That's all folks

1. Welcome

Happy New Year!

As I'm on holiday all you get today are the idioms
from newsletters 1 to 10. I hope you like them.

Feel free to forward them to whoever you think
may like them.

Now on with the show


2. Idioms

Here are the idioms from the first ten newsletters.
See if you can remember them.

A good way to make them active is to use them,
so make one of your New Year's resolutions be
to speak each idiom at least once ;-)

#-# to pass the buck #-#

The 'buck' is the responsibility for something.
If you pass the buck then you try to pass the
responsibility for something to someone else.

This idiom originates from poker. The 'buck' is
the marker which shows who the dealer is.
When the dealer passes the buck they also
pass on the responsibility of being the dealer.

Imagine someone makes a big mistake at work.
Instead of ordering two new computers they
order twenty-two.

If they then try to say that it wasn't their fault -
that someone else made the mistake, then they
are passing the buck.

There's a famous saying, "the buck stops here",
which President Truman used to say that final
responsibility for his administration rested with
him and him alone. Now this phrase is widely
used too.

#-# to cost an arm and a leg #-#

If something costs an arm and a leg then it costs
a lot more than you would expect it to.

If you use this idiom it gives information to the
people you are talking to - that the price is a
lot more than you would expect to pay.

For example, if you take a taxi home on
Christmas Day it will probably cost at least
double the normal rate. If you think it is too
much then maybe you could use this idiom.

Or, maybe your washing machine breaks
down on New Year's Day and you call a
plumber (that's the person who installs and
fixes washing machines, toilets, sinks, etc.).
They will probably charge you a lot of money -
I'm sure it would cost an arm and a leg!

#-# to be a piece of cake #-#

If something is a piece of cake then it is very easy.
(But what is a piece of cake to one person can be
very difficult or confusing to another!)

- - - - -

Paul:    Jane, I don't understand how to work this
video camera - these instructions aren't very clear.
Can you help me, please?

Jane:   No problem. Let me see ... oh, it's a piece of
cake, Paul. All you do is push this red button first,
then push the blue button twice, and that's it.

Paul:   It might be a piece of cake to you, but I
still don't understand it!

#-# to not stand for something #-#

If you won't stand for something it means that
you won't accept it. (It is normally used to talk
about the future - with "won't".)

Here are two examples.

- - - - -

A manager goes to his staff and tells them that
their pay will be cut by 5% because sales are
falling. The workers say, "We won't stand for
it. If you cut our pay then we will go on strike."

- - - - -

A new teacher goes into class and says to the
children, "My name is Mr Smith. I want you all
to work hard and not cause problems. If there is
any silly behaviour I won't stand for it - you
will be in big trouble!"

#-# the grass is always greener
     (on the other side of the fence) #-#

The original meaning of this idiom comes from
when a person would look over their garden
fence and think that the neighbour's grass was
greener, and therefore better.

We often use this idiom to tell a person who
feels that someone else has a better job, house,
life, garden, etc. that it just seems that way.

The idiom can be used in the short or long form,
but just saying "the grass is always greener" is
probably the most common, as the listener
understands what is being said.

- - - - -

Dave:    I hate my job! All I do is write letters and
phone customers. I'd love a job like Mary's. She
seems really happy.

Paul:     The grass is always greener, David. I'm
sure she also has lots of paperwork

#-# to pull somebody's leg #-#

This idiom is very difficult to explain, but the
examples help.

If someone pulls someone else's leg then they
are telling them something unbelievable,
probably so that they can have a laugh at the
other person's expense.

What they tell them MAY be true, but it's hard
to believe.

- - - - -

Dave: Hey, last night I saw Madonna in a pub
in the city centre.

Paul:     Really?

Dave:   Yes. She was out with Tom Cruise.

Paul:     No - you're pulling my leg.

- - - - -

Mary:   Hey, Dave said he saw Madonna in a pub
last night, with Tom Cruise! Amazing.

Susan: He's pulling your leg. There's no way
Madonna would ever be in our town!

- - - - -

Brian:    Sarah, I've just checked the lottery
numbers. We've got all 6 on our ticket! We've
won millions of pounds. We're rich!

Sarah:   Please say you're not pulling my leg!

Brian:   Honey, I am not pulling your leg.
Look - all 6 numbers. We've hit the jackpot!

#-# to put your money where your mouth is #-#

Paul and David are in a pub playing darts when
Michael comes in. He says that he's much better
at darts than they are and that he would beat
them if he played them. So Paul and David say,
"Put your money where your mouth is."

This means that, if Michael thinks he is better
at darts than they are, then he should be willing
to bet some money on it.

If he believes that he is better, he should put his
money where his mouth is, and bet on it.

#-# to see somebody coming #-#

We use this idiom to say that somebody has been
taken advantage of, often in a financial sense.

For example, Albert goes to the market and buys
2kg of grapes and pays $4. If the normal price
is about $2 then you could say to Albert, "They
saw you coming!" It means that when the shop-
owner saw Albert coming he raised the prices and
charged him more than he normally would.

It's also used when people are buying second-hand
cars, or in other situations where the prices are
not fixed. If the owner "sees you coming" they
try to get as much as possible from you!

It often happens to tourists - for example, when
taxi drivers charge more than they should,
because they know the passenger isn't likely
to know the real prices.

It's happened to me in the past, and I'm sure
will happen to me again in the future!

#-# to beat around the bush #-#
#-# to beat about the bush #-#

Imagine that there is a chicken hiding in a bush.
You want to catch the chicken, but the chicken
won't come out.

What could you do?

You could bang or beat on the floor around the
bush, but the chicken probably wouldn't come

If, however, you started banging or beating the
bush then maybe the chicken would come out,
and then you could try to catch it!

So, if you "beat around the bush" you're not
really getting to the point of what you want to
do or say.

We say this idiom to or about people who don't
get to the point.

- - - - -

Situation - Martin likes Werner's motorbike and
wants to buy it off him.

Martin:    Hey, Werner, you know that motorbike
of yours - well, it's really quite a nice one. I've
always liked it.

Werner: Thanks. Yes, it's not so bad. Listen, I'm
thinking of going to the pub later. Do you want
to come?

Martin:   Er, yes. The thing is, that motorbike of
yours; you don't really ride it a lot, do you?

Werner: No, not really. I just don't have the time.

Martin:   Oh, you don't have time to ride it! I really
like that motorbike you know. I always have.

Paul:      Come on, stop beating around the bush
and get to the point. Yes, it's a nice bike. Yes, I
know you REALLY like it - you tell me every day.
What is it you really want to say?

#-# to be in two minds about something #-#

If you are in two minds about something then you
are unable to decide whether to do something or

For example, if someone invites you to a party and
part of you wants to go but part of you doesn't then
you could say you're in two minds about going.

3. Subscribe/Unsubscribe details

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4. That's all folks!

That's all for this week.

Keep smiling!

john finley ;-)

<a href="mailto:topfe-@yahoo.com">

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