Search This Blog

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Add Insult to Injury

Context #1

I had a boyfriend for nearly 2 months. He recently broke up with me. He claimed the relationship was not working because I was not his “type.” My hair is blonde, I have blue eyes, and I’m fairly athletic. When we first met, he said I was exactly his type! Recently, my friend told me she saw my ex-boyfriend at Del Amo Mall with his new girlfriend. His new girlfriend was a blonde, blue-eyed volleyball player! My friend also said she looks very similar to me! First I was upset about our break-up. It adds insult to injury that he lied about his reasons. I now know I’m better off without him.

Context #2

Tina: Hi, Billy. How was your first day of school?
Billy: It started out fine, but quickly turned horrible.
Tina: What happened?!
Billy: Well, it started when I tried to go to my first class. The teacher couldn’t find me on his class list. It was a little embarrassing because everyone was looking at me. That’s when I realized I was in the wrong room. One of the front desk staff gave me the wrong information.
Tina: That’s not so bad.
Billy: That’s only the beginning. After my classroom situation was worked out, I was running late to get to my real class and I wasn’t paying attention. There was a muddy puddle and I didn’t see it. I fell right on my butt and to add insult to injury, I dropped one of my brand new textbooks in the puddle. I have to let it dry out. I can’t afford to buy another one.
Tina: Oh no! That does sound terrible! Are you OK?
Billy: I’ve managed to recover! Hope tomorrow is better!


The expression add insult to injury is used when talking about a situation that is already bad AND it gets worse. Use this expression AFTER the initial bad situation and BEFORE the thing that makes it worse.

In Example 1, the speaker is talking about her breakup- a bad situation. This bad situation becomes worse when she finds out her ex-boyfriend lied to her about the reasons. Her boyfriend broke up with her and to add insult to injury, he lied about the reasons.

In Example 2
, Billy had a terrible day that continued to get worse. First, he went to the wrong room. Then he slipped in a muddy puddle. To add insult to injury, his book was also damaged by the water.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Actions speak louder than words

Context #1

Amy: Hey Brian, what time will you pick me for tomorrow’s carpool to school?

Brian: I’ll be there at 9 am sharp.
Amy: Are you sure? Because the last 3 times you were late and we almost missed our first class. I would almost prefer to walk than wait for you again if you’re going to be late.
Brian: I promise. I’ll be on time tomorrow. Trust me.
Amy: Actions speak louder than words. I’ll have to see what you do tomorrow.

Context #2

We have a new American President set to be sworn into office soon. During each campaign season, the candidates make many promises with hopes to gain support and votes from the citizens. It seems that a candidate will often say anything and everything that will get him or her elected, even if they have no intention of doing what they say. Regardless of whom you supported in the elections, this is always true: Whoever is elected must remember that actions speak louder than words when it comes to gaining our trust and support in the long run.


Actions speak louder than words means that what you DO is more important than what you SAY.
In Example 1, Brian SAYS he will be on time, but actually, he has been late the last 3 times. His actions don’t match his words, so Amy reminds him that he needs to DO what he says, not only SAY that he will.

In Example 2
, the speaker is discussing politics. It is likely true of politicians in many countries, that they SAY many wonderful things and make many amazing promises, but often FAIL TO DO it. The speaker uses this expression to emphasize that politicians would enjoy more trust and support from their constituents if their ACTIONS matched their WORDS.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fish out of water

Context #1

Two colleagues are talking at work...

Penny: How are you finding the transition from accounting to account management?
Mark: It's all quite difficult and confusing. I am never sure just what it is I should be doing.
Penny: It's natural to feel like a fish out of water for the first few weeks. You'll settle in no time.

Context #2

Two friends are talking ...

Ana: How's school going?
Mike: I'm feeling a little like a fish out of water.
Ana: Why is that?
Mike: Well, after spending twenty years in the workforce, going to school with a bunch of bright, quick young people makes me feel out of place. I'm not sure I can manage the workload.

Meaning: To feel "like a fish out of water" means to feel awkward because you are in a situation that you have not experienced before or because you are very different from the people around you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Be in the same boat

Context #1

Ana: Hello, Andrew! Where are you going?
Andrew: I am going to the mayor to ask him to take necessary steps against environmental pollution.
Ana: You're right. Environmental pollution has become a great problem in our lives.
Andrew: Even though the environment helps us to exist, we don’t bother to take care of it. We are polluting it indiscriminately and we're all in the same boat. People are not aware of it. They throw their waste here and there.
Ana: Cars and factories are polluting the environment through their toxic chemicals.
Andrew: That's why I decided to take action! We should take care of our environment. It’s true that we cannot stop pollution. But we can lessen it. Would you like to join me?
Ana: For sure! Let's do it!

Meaning: The speaker said that everyone should make an effort towards protecting the environment, as everyone was in the same boat and climate changes have direct consequences for all.

Context #2

Tuesday Morning at Language Systems during the Placement Test...

Mona: Hello!! Nice to meet you!!
Pat: Hi!
Mona: Hmmm, Hello! I said nice to meet you...
Pat: Sorry, but this is my first time in the U.S., and I'm scared to speak English.
Mona: No problem! I'm scared too, but we're all in the same boat!
Pat: Thank you, my friend! I'm feeling better now!
Meaning: Mona is trying to make Pat feel better by explaining that they both don't have to be proficient in English right now since they will learn how to speak English at Language Systems. They're in the same situation.

*The idiom was first used by the ancient Greeks when speaking about the risks that all passengers in a small boat at sea had to face together. Now it is used to describe any unpleasant situation, not only if you are in a boat!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hot potato

Context #1 

Two friends discussing personal problems

Jon: What’s up Aaron? What did you want to talk about? 
Aaron: I’m going to travel with my girlfriend to her home country, but it seems her parents don’t really want to meet me because I’m from a different culture.
Jon: Oh wow! It seems you have a hot potato in your hands. You will have to approach this issue with an open mind and try your best.
Aaron: I’ve been learning their language and cultural norms. I’m bringing a special gift for them too.
Jon: Remember that it’s a sensitive issue. Learn as you go. Hot potatoes are difficult to deal with.

Context #2 

Two co-workers discussing the holiday party

JuneI’m trying to promote the Christmas party to everyone at work.
Alex: That’s great! Just remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Just promote it as an inclusive Holiday Party. You want to avoid any hot potatoes at work.
June: Yes, you’re right. I just want everyone at work to enjoy a good time. It’s not necessarily about Christmas.
Alex: Yep. Include everyone in a friendly way and you can avoid any issues at work. Those things are always tricky.

Meaning: A hot potato means a controversial or difficult problem that can be difficult or risky to deal with. In the first context, they had to deal with relationship and cultural issues that can affect multi-cultural couples. In the second context, both friends discuss having a holiday party without leaving anyone out, or making it seem exclusive. Not an easy thing to consider at work.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A penny for your thoughts

Context #1 

Friends making a decision about where to take a trip

Natalie: I was thinking about the restaurants we should visit while in San Francisco. I have so many I want to go to. What about you? 
Robert: I don’t know what to say. Whatever is fine.
Natalie: Hey, we’re doing this together right? A penny for your thoughts, Rob.
Robert: Well, I heard they have good sushi there. I guess the sushi shop by the Ferry Building would be great.
Natalie: See, that wasn’t so painful, was it? Your opinion counts.

Context #2 

Teachers discussing next year’s school events

TomWhat do you think about taking students to the Ramen Festival in February?
Karley: I’m not from L.A., so please don’t ask. I really don’t know any place around here.
Tom: Oh, come on! I’m sure you’ve considered, at least, a place you want to visit. A penny for your thoughts, Karley.
Karley: Fine! I was thinking about this really nice restaurant in downtown with a great view of the city. Maybe after, we can all go to a museum.

Meaning: A penny for your thoughts is a comment you make when you want someone else’s opinion. Perhaps the person doesn’t want to contribute to ideas or is simply shy. It’s a way to motivate someone to participate. In both examples, the characters have to say it for their friend’s opinion to be expressed.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Snowed In

Context #1 

A college student is talking to his dad on the phone

Tommy: Hello, Dad? 
Dad: Tommy! It’s so good to hear from you! We heard that you got snowed in at the airport and we were worried about you. Is everything OK?
Tommy: Yes, I’m fine, but I’ve been snowed in here for about two days. I don’t know if I’ll be able to fly home for Christmas.
Dad: That’s OK. We are just happy you are safe.
Tommy: It’s strange being at the airport so long, but I think things should open up soon. I’ll keep you posted.

Context #2 

A little girl is asking her Mom about going to school

Sarah: Look at all that snow! It hasn’t stopped all day.
Mom: Yes, it looks like it is getting too deep.
Sarah: Do you think we will get snowed in? That would be so much fun!
Mom: What do you mean? It’s not fun to just stay home and not be able to go anywhere.
Sarah: It’s fun when you don’t have to go to school because you are snowed in!

Meaning: To be snowed in means to be trapped somewhere because of too much snow. In the first context, the college student is snowed in at the airport, so he is not able to fly home for Christmas. In the second context, the little girl is hoping to be snowed in so that she doesn’t have to go to school.