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Thursday, May 19, 2011

to take advantage of

Idiom: to take advantage of; used as a verb. This idiom can have a positive and negative meaning.

First example: It has been raining for the past two weeks, but today is sunny. Tom has decided to take advantage of the good weather to get some exercise outside.

Meaning: In this example, “to take advantage of” means “to have a good opportunity and use it to get something good for oneself.” This is the positive meaning of the idiom. The weather has been bad for the previous two weeks, but today is a nice day. Tom is able to enjoy the nice weather and has the opportunity to exercise outside.

Here is another example:

Second example: Jennifer, Joe, and Dan are working on a project together. Dan wants to date Jennifer, but Jennifer wants to date Joe. She knows Dan will do anything to impress her. Jennifer takes advantage of Dan and asks him to finish the project by himself. While he is working on the project, Jennifer and Joe go to dinner and a movie.

Meaning: This example shows the negative meaning of “to take advantage of:” “to get something for oneself by hurting someone else.” Jennifer knows that Dan likes her. She uses his feelings to convince him to do the project alone. Then she goes on a date with Joe while Dan finishes the project. When Dan finds out, he will definitely be hurt.

This idiom is from LSI's book "Reading Transitions," which is used in the Level 4 Listening/Speaking classes. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

to pan out

Idiom: to pan out; used as a verb

First example: Stacy was extremely nervous before Tim’s surprise party. She planned on getting him to the party at exactly 8:00, but there was a huge traffic accident on the freeway. Stacy exited the freeway and remembered a shortcut to the restaurant, so she got Tim there just in time. Stacy was happy that everything panned out, and the surprise party was a success.

Meaning: “to pan out” means “to have a successful result.” We generally use this idiom to talk about a difficult or challenging situation. In this example, Stacy was having a problem getting Tim to the restaurant by 8:00 because of the freeway accident. After she remembered the shortcut, she was able to successfully get Tim to the party on time.

Here is another example:

Second example: Jason wanted to start a computer business. He worked for several years and invested a lot of his time and money into the business. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out, and Jason lost a lot of money. Even though the business failed, Jason learned a lot from his efforts.

Meaning: In this example, Jason failed in his attempt to start a business. Starting a business is very challenging and Jason put a lot of time and money into creating the business. Sadly, it wasn’t successful; the negative form (“didn’t pan out”) is used. This idiom is commonly used in this type of situation.

This idiom is from LSI's book "Speaking Transitions," which is used in the Level 4 Listening/Speaking classes. For more information, please visit