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Friday, July 15, 2011

to lend/give (someone) a hand

Idiom: to lend/give (someone) a hand; used as a verb.

First Example:

Cristal: Hey Zac, I want to rearrange the furniture, but it's too heavy. Could you lend me a hand?

Zack: Of course. What do you want to move first?

Meaning: "to lend/give (someone) a hand" means to help someone; while not always, this idiom is often used when the help is physical in nature, such as Cristal asking Zack to help her move furniture. Usually, the request is made because an action is too difficult for one person alone, or because the action requires one additional hand, as in the example below.

Second Example:

James: My hands are full with groceries, and I can't open the door.

Molly: Here, let me give you a hand. Should I take some bags or get the keys out of your pocket?

Here, James only has two hands, which are filled with groceries, so he needs one more hand to get the keys out of his pocket and open the door. However, as in the first example, the idiom usually doesn't literally mean "I need your hand," and occasionally, the help isn't even physical, as in this example:

Third Example:

Al: My son Marty asked me about a Geometry problem, and I cannot figure it out. Henrietta, you're good at math. Could you give him a hand?

Henrietta: Sure, let me look. Hmm. Oh, I see the problem...

Meaning: In this case, Al's son Marty needs help with a math problem, which isn't physical. Notice that whether you use "lend" or "give" (either one is correct), the person being helped should be come between the verb and "a hand" (which is always singular).

This idiom is from LSI's book "Reading Horizons," which is used in the Level 6 Reading classes. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

to run into

Idiom: to run into (someone/something); inseparable phrasal verb.

First Example: Lisa went to her favorite restaurant in her old neighborhood, and she ran into her ex boyfriend. He said "Hi" but she ignored him. She didn't want to see him.

Meaning: "to run into (someone/something)" means to meet by accident or chance; if you "run into" someone, you were not expecting to see them. In this example, Lisa went to the restaurant because she liked the food and did not expect to see her ex boyfriend. This idiom is usually used when you run into another person, but it can also be used with any situation you find by accident or chance (as below). It's an inseparable phrasal verb, which means the object always comes after "into."

Here is another example:

Second Example: Kurt was hiking in the mountains when he ran into a mountain lion and her cubs. She hissed at him, and he was really frightened, but she didn't attack him and he got away.

Meaning: In this case, Kurt was not looking for a wild animal, but he almost got hurt. Notice that it doesn't mean that he literally "ran into" the mountain lion - just that he met her by accident.

This idiom is from LSI's book "Reading Connections," which is used in the Level 3 Reading classes. For more information, please visit