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Thursday, June 22, 2017

To be under fire

Idiom: to be under fire; used as a verb

First Example:

Jen: What's going on in the office? It seems like everyone is being really secretive.
Tom: I heard that Hank Silva is under fire for lying to clients.       
Jen: What?!
Tom: I don't know all the info, but a number of clients have complained that they were promised more than they received. Some of the clients and even other employees are demanding he be fired, but management is doing an internal investigation.

Meaning: The expression "the be under fire" means that a person is being criticized. In the above example, Tom says that Hank is "under fire" because he's being criticized by clients and other employees. The expression comes from warfare, where "under fire" means that a person is under attack. However, the expression is now also used when someone is just being attacked verbally with criticism. The word "come" is also often used with "under fire" when discussing a situation when someone has recently "come under fire," as in the next example.

Second Example:

The politician recently came under fire after she made a controversial statement about immigration. Party officials attacked her for her statement, and many voters in her district are demanding an apology.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

10 Uses of "Hot"

In honor of the weather in Los Angeles this week, here are ten different ways Americans use the word "hot."

1. at a very high temperature; capable of burning

Wife: Be careful near the stove! It's hot. I just cooked something.
Husband: Thanks for the warning! I wouldn't want to burn myself.

2. at a temperature higher than normal

Mom: Your forehead is so hot!
Son: Does that mean I don't have to go to school?
Mom: With a fever like that, you have to go back to bed.

3. spicy

Mina: I love Thai food. I'm going to order "drunken noodles" very hot.
Tim: I can't eat anything too spicy. Can we order it medium?

4. intense emotion

Robert: Wow! Did you see Tina yell at that guy in the parking lot?
Michelle: Yeah! I didn't realize she had such a hot temper.

5. popular

Ingrid: Did you get Beyoncé tickets?
Todd: I couldn't. She's so hot right now, they sold out instantly.

6. causing a lot of new interest

George: How was Coachella?
Kimberly: It was amazing. And I saw the hottest band early Saturday afternoon. Everyone was talking about their performance the rest of the day. I think they're going to be huge in a couple years.

7. stolen

Jason: So Steve just called me from jail. He got arrested.
Karen: Really? What happened?
Jason: He was with a friend who was driving a hot car.
Karen: Did Steve know it was stolen?
Jason: I don't think so. Want to go with me to bail him out of jail?

8. attractive

Karla: Your trainer is so hot! He's gorgeous!
Hailey: Why do you think I've been coming to the gym so much lately?

9. attracted to

Hailey: Remember my trainer?
Karla: The gorgeous one? How could I forget?
Hailey: Turns out, he's hot for me too. We're going on a date tonight.
Karla: I'm so jealous! Have fun!

10. very good (often used with "not" in a negative way)

Nicole: How are you feeling?
Eric: Not so hot. I think I'm going to take today off work and go to the doctor.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

On the Spur of the Moment

On the spur of the moment: to do something suddenly or without planning     

Context #1 

Two students talking after class

Vinnie: Hey, Megan. How was your weekend?

Megan: It was fantastic! We spent the weekend hanging out at Huntington Beach. It was so relaxing.

Vinnie: Wow, I didn't know that you had planned a weekend at the beach.

Megan: I didn't plan it at all. My roommate just decided to go there on the spur of the moment and asked me to come along. It took very little to persuade me!

Context #2 

Two friends are talking in a coffee shop

Sam:  Hey, Pete. I saw you yesterday with Francesca at that new restaurant on Wilshire Blvd. How did you get a date with her? She is beautiful and smart!

Pete:  Well, I still can't believe we went out. I'm always so nervous around her. On Friday, I just happened to see her after class and asked her out to dinner on the spur of the moment. 

Sam: And she said "yes" right away?

Pete: She didn't even hesitate! I'm so glad I took the chance and asked her out because she is a really nice person. I want to ask her out again, but next time I'll plan it.

Meaning: “On the spur of the moment” means to do something suddenly or without a plan. In Context 1, Megan and her roommate decided to spend the weekend at the beach without any previous planning, or on the spur of the moment. In Context 2, Pete had not planned to ask Francesca out, but he did it on the spur of the moment and she said "yes."

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

On a Shoestring

Idiom: On a Shoestring – with a very small amount of money    

Context #1 

Two student talking after class

Vickey: Hey, Mac. Do you know if that part-time position at the bookstore on campus is still available?

Mac: I’m not sure. Don’t you already work part-time at a restaurant and you are a full-time student?

Vickey: Yes, but I’ve been living on a shoestring for the past year and I really need to make more money in order to pay the rent.

Mac: I know how you feel. I lived on a shoestring all through college. When I finally graduated and found a high-paying job, it was such a relief. Let’s walk over to the bookstore now and check on that part-time job.

Context #2 

Two friends are talking about the restaurant where they work

Sierra:  Wow, it has been so slow the past few months. The boss cut my hours again this week. Now, I’m only working 3 hours a day during the evening shift.

Peter:  Yes, me too. I guess they are running this restaurant on a shoestring until the business gets better. They even cut down on the number of items on the menu in order to save money.

Sierra: Well, I hope it gets better soon. At this rate, I’ll need to find another part-time job.

Meaning: “On a shoestring” means to do something, like run a business or manage one’s budget, with very little money.  In context #1, Vickey is looking for another part-time job because she is living on a shoestring budget and needs to make more money to pay rent. In context #2, Sierra and Peter are working at a restaurant that must run on very little money since business is down. 

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

On one's own

Example #1

Natasha: Hey, Jackie! Thank you so much for sending me the e-mail regarding the next Summer trip! I wish I could join you guys, but I am actually going on a trip.

Jackie: Oh, no! That's a bummer! Sorry you will not join us. Well, where are you going?

Natasha: I am going to Denmark.

Jackie: WOW! That sounds great! Who are you going with?

Natasha: Nobody! 

Jackie: Wait... Nobody? What do you mean?

Natasha: I am going on my own! Just me! 

Jackie: Are you sure you want to go on your own? Isn't that dangerous?

Natasha: No! I love traveling on my own! Don't worry. Next time you guys plan a trip, I will join you. Thank you again!

Jackie: You are welcome! If you change your mind, let me know!

Example #2

Hi Katherine,

I am so glad to hear you are coming to Los Angeles! You asked me on your e-mail if you could stay with me. Of course you can stay with me!
I live in a studio on my own. It's small, but you can sleep on the air mattress if you don't mind.
It will be so much fun to have you here! I have a business trip from 07/10 to 07/13, so I am sorry you will be on your own those days.
When I get back, we can go on a day trip to San Diego if you want!

Can't wait to see you!



On one's own MEANING: by oneself, alone, unaccompanied

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Get cold feet

Context #1

Alicia: When are we going to get a new car?

Brian: I don't know. We can't afford it now that you've stopped work.
Alicia: Did you talk to your boss today?
Brian: Yes.
Alicia: Did you ask him for a promotion? 
Brian: Well...
Alicia: Oh, Brian, you promised!
Brian: I didn't promise...
Alicia: Yes, you did. You were going to tell him you'd leave if he didn't give you a pay raise.
Brian: Well that wouldn't do much good, would it? If I ended up losing my job we'd have no money, at all.
Alicia: Oh, come on, stop making excuses. You didn't say anything because you got cold feet again. No courage, that's your trouble.

Context #2

Jessica: How are you feeling about the wedding?
 I am starting to get nervous. This is such a big change.
Jessica: Everyone gets cold feet before marriage. They important thing to remember is that you love him.
Paula: That’s true. I do love him. Thank you for the encouragement.

Meaning: In the context 1, he was going to ask for a pay rise, but he got scared. In the context 2, Paula was afraid to compromise herself in the marriage. 

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

In vain

Context #1: 

Mike: Have you heard from Richard? It's been a while since I've talked to him.

Bryan: No, I can't get a hold of him. I've even tried getting in touch with his mother. She's also tried in vain for the last 2 days. I hope he's OK.

Mike: That's really weird, but I'm sure he's fine. Let me know if you hear anything.

Bryan: For sure

Context #2

Tom: Hey, Stan! How are you? Wow! What happened to your leg?!

Stan: Hey, Tom. I had a bike accident and broke my ankle. It happened about 2 weeks ago. I have to stay off of it for at least another month. 

Tom: Oh what a bummer! So that means you won't be running the marathon next week then. That's terrible. You've been training for months!

Stan: I know. The last 6 months of training were all in vain! The only good thing about this is that I'm finally forced to relax and rest. I'll get back on the road once it heals.


In vain is used when something is done without success; it's almost considered a waste of time/effort. 

In example 1, Richard's mother tried without success to get in touch with him.  
In example 2, Stan's training was wasted because of his injury.

This expression can be used with a verb: verb + in vain
She tried in vain to call Richard.

This expression can be used with nouns: noun + be + in vain
All of Stan's training was in vain.

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