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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Second to None

Second to None: the best, better than anything or anyone else

Context #1 – A friend is asking his roommate about restaurants

Mark: Hey, Mannie. What are you doing?
Mannie: Well, I’m looking for a really nice restaurant. I’ve decided to ask Tanya to marry me and I would like to do it in a romantic restaurant.
Mark: Congratulations! You make a great couple! I know a perfect restaurant right on the beach. It has a beautiful view and the food is delicious!
Mannie: Are you sure it is the best restaurant in the area?
Mark: I guarantee you that this restaurant is second to none. You will love it!

Context #2 – Friends talking about a concert

Cassandra: Hey, would you like to go see that new band “Things Hidden” tonight at the coliseum?
Tabitha: Oh, yes! I heard they are the best new band out there!
Cassandra: They are second to none! No other band can compare.
Tabitha: Let’s go early so that we can get really good seats.

Explanation: “Second to none” means the best or better than anything or anyone else. In context 1, Mannie wants to take Tanya to the best restaurant in town so that he can propose to her.  Mark assures Mannie that the restaurant he recommended is the best, or second to none. In context 2, the band that the two friends are going to see is the best new band in town. 
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

To rip off

Idiom: to rip off (verb), a rip-off (noun) – to steal something from another person; to cheat or trick someone into spending more money on a product than what it is worth.

Context #1 – Friends are taking a tour of Los Angeles

Dan: Let’s go see the Hollywood sign next, but don’t leave your bag in the car.
Juan: Really? Why not?
Dan: Because there are thieves at popular sites who often rip off tourists who are not careful with their bags and belongings.
Juan: Oh, I see. That happens sometimes in my country, especially in areas where there are a lot of tourists.
Dan: Yes, so be careful.  If someone rips us off, then we will really be in trouble!

Context #2 – Two friends are talking about buying a car

Sami: I saw an advertisement for a new car. It’s so cheap, so I really need to get to that dealership to buy it now!
Petra: Sami, do you really believe that? It’s too good to be true. Those car dealerships rip everyone off.
Sami: Really? But they can’t lie to people. That’s terrible.
Petra: They put up those advertisements to get people to go to the dealership.  Then, they say unfortunately that “good deal” is no longer available. They are very tricky. Then they will pressure you into paying a lot more for a car than what it is really worth.
Sami: What a rip-off!! That’s outrageous.
Petra: Yes, it is. You are better off knowing the full market value and shopping around at many different places. Then, hopefully, you won’t get ripped off like so many customers.
Sami: That sounds like a plan!

Meaning: To rip off is a verb and a “rip-off” is a noun. This idiom means to steal something or to purposely deceive or trick someone into paying more for a product than what is necessary.  In context 1, two friends are touring Los Angeles and are afraid that if they leave their bags in the car, a thief will “rip them off” or steal their bags. In context 2, Sami sees a really good advertisement for a car, but Petra warns him that the car dealership may be trying to “rip him off” by getting him to go there through false advertising. 

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

A drop in the bucket

First Example:

            Mary: Thanks for the donation for the Children's Hospital.
Conner: I wish I could give more. I know $100 is a drop in the bucket compared to what they need.
Mary: It's still generous of you. Yeah, we need to raise about $10 million, but if more people give, it'll really make a difference to a lot of sick kids.

Meaning: The expression "a drop in the bucket" means that something is very small when compared to what is necessary. In the example above, Conner has given Mary a donation for children's hospital, but he realizes that compared with the $10 million necessary, it seems almost worthless (which Mary denies).

Second Example:

When the employees found out how much money the company had made without giving any raises or bonuses, the employees were furious. They argued that a small raise for each employee would have been a drop in the bucket when compared with the record profits, but the company argued that they were investing the profits to ensure future growth.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Mixed Feelings

Idiom: mixed feelings; used as a noun

First Example:

Harry: Did you hear about the policy new change?
Victoria: Yeah.
Harry: You don't sound happy about it.
Victoria: Well, I have mixed feelings. I mean, I can see how it'll make the experience better for our clients, so that's good.
Harry: Right.
Victoria: But it's going to make our jobs harder, and the company isn't going to be getting more money for our time from our clients. So sure, it's great for the clients, but I have enough work to do already.

Meaning: The expression "mixed feelings" means a reaction that is both positive and negative. In the above example, Victoria says she has "mixed feelings" about a policy change at work because it's better for the clients, but it's worse for the employees. Also, note that Victoria uses the expression after the verb "have;" "have mixed feelings" is probably the most common form when using this expression, but it's not the only one.

Second Example:

Dan: The Oscars were crazy this year!
Robin: I know! I watched that ending with so many mixed feelings.
Dan: What do you mean?
Robin: Well, I wanted Moonlight to win, but they said La La Land won, which didn't surprise me. But then they took it away from them! I was happy for the Moonlight people but sad at the same time for the La La Land people!
Dan: Yeah, that was a roller coaster of emotions.

Meaning: Note that Robin doesn't use the verb "have", instead saying she did something  "with mixed feelings". This is probably the second most common way of using this idiom.

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

To draw a blank

Context #1: Faz and Tyler are eating at a restaurant.

Tyler: Faz, you are the most forgetful person I know.
Faz: No way! My memory is just fine.
Tyler: Oh, really? How long have we known each other?
Faz: Um… More than ten years!
Tyler: Okay, so what is my name?
Faz: It’s…ah… Give me a hint; I’m drawing a blank.

Context #2: Wilma has not been following Mr. Scott’s lecture in class.

Mr. Scott: Wilma, what’s the answer to question 7 (in the book).
Wilma: I’m not sure, Mr. Scott.
Mr. Scott: We just talked about this, Wilma. Why don’t you know? Were you doodling* in your notebook again?
Wilma: No, sir. My notebook is clean. All I have been doing is drawing blanks.

Meaning: to forget, to not know, or to not have information.  A blank is a space without information. We use this idiom to tell our listener that our brain cannot create a picture or cannot give the correct information.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

To be in hot water

Context #1: James is met at home by his angry mother

Mother: You are in hot water, young man!
James: Why? What did I do?
Mother: You took the car without asking. Now you come home – and it’s 2:00 am! You didn’t call or tell me where you were!
James: But, Mom, I couldn’t tell you; I went to a SURPRISE party!
Mother: Well, surprise! You’re grounded!

Context #2: Doreen and Tom are in school talking about their classmate, Gina

Doreen: Can you believe Gina? She’s not here again.
Tom: Do you think the teacher notices?
Doreen: Oh yeah! Mrs. Lynch told Gina that she’d be in hot water if she missed another class.

Meaning: to be in trouble. “Hot water” is a bad situation. We have many idioms that connect “hot” things with difficult situations: “out of the frying pan and into the fire” and “feel the heat” are two others.

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Fallen on deaf ears

Example 1:

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has been warning people for years: smoking cigarettes is bad for your health. Beginning in 1965, the CDC required that warning labels be placed in small letters on the side of every package of cigarettes sold in the U.S. These warning labels read, "Caution: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health." The CDC updated its policy steadily from then and by 1981 had announced to the public that cigarette smoking did indeed cause cancer and other terrible conditions. However, these warnings have largely fallen on deaf ears, as young people continue to try cigarettes and begin to smoke regularly despite the mounting evidence of its risk. 

Example 2:

Julia: Hey, Becky. I'm having a problem with my boyfriend. I need your advice. 
Becky: I don't think so, Julia. I would really love to help you, but we've been through this so many times with all of your past boyfriends. Every other time you've come to me for advice, it just falls on deaf ears
Julia: That's not true! I listen to your advice as take it but the same things keep happening with each new boyfriend I have. They are always so jealous of my ex-boyfriends even though we've broken up.
Becky: Well, if you can remember, my advice is usually to stay single for a while in between relationships. You need time to get over one guy before you get involved with the next one. That might help you avoid this recurring problem.
Julia: Hmm, maybe you're right. I think I have to break up with my boyfriend. It's not working out and there's this cute new guy in my physics class that I've been talking to....
Becky: See what I mean?! You can't be helped!

 to fall on deaf ears is an expression that is used when warnings or advice are ignored by the person/people receiving it. 
In example 1, the advice from the CDC falls on deaf ears because people continue to smoke cigarettes despite scientific evidence of its harm.
In example 2, Becky does not want to give Julia advice anymore because Julia never takes it and continues making the same mistakes.

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