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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

to get in(to) shape

Idiom: to get in(to) shape; used as a verb

First Example:

Commercial: Are you ready to wear your bathing suit this Summer? Or did you gain too much weight over the holidays? Come on down to Fitness Center and get into shape. If you sign up now, you'll get two free training sessions to help you get in shape!

Meaning: "Get in(to) shape" means to improve one's health, usually by exercising (but could also include dieting). The example above is what you might hear from a radio/television commercial for a gym membership. Normally, this idiom uses the preposition "into." However, due to the related idiom "in shape," which is used to describe a person who is in excellent physical condition, some people use "get in shape" instead. This idiom is sometimes separated after "into," usually to add an adjective for emphasis. Look at the following example.

Second Example:

Jerry: Thanks for coming to the gym with me Jean.

Jean: No problem. It'll be fun. Wow, that guy is really in shape!

Jerry: I know! I wonder what he did to get into such great shape.

Jean: Let's ask! Excuse me, sir. What's your secret?

Robby: What do you mean?

Jean: How did you get in such amazing shape?

Robby: Hard work and diet. I can show you if you like. I'm a trainer here at the gym, so you'd have to pay for the lessons.

Here, Jerry and Jean admire Robby, who is in good shape. Notice that both "get into" and "get in" are used interchangeably with "shape" and that both examples use adjectives to explain just how good of shape Robby is in.

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

Significant other

Idiom: significant other; used as a noun.

First Example:

Christina: Bryan, I just got a wedding invitation from my friend, Ryan. Would you like to go with me?

Bryan: Sure, but can you bring a guest?

Christina: Hmm. Well, it says the only guests allowed are children and significant others.

Bryan: Then I don't think I should go. Roommates don't count as "significant others."

Meaning: "Significant other" is used as a vague term for another person's partner in a romantic relationship. It is often used formally in things like invitations, when it's possible the person could have a husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend. In the above example, Bryan says he can't go because "significant other" means more than a friend or roommate. However, "significant other" can also be used informally, either because a person wants to keep his/her private life secret, or in a question to find out a person's relationship status and/or sexual orientation.

Second Example:

Laurie's Boss: Who was that on the phone?

Laurie: My significant other - I need to pick up some eggs on the way home.

Here, Laurie is avoiding telling her boss what her relationship is exactly to the person who called her, so she just said it was her "significant other."

Third Example:

Laurie's Boss: Why do you always use "significant other?" Why don't you just say "boyfriend" or "husband"?

Laurie: Because "Susan" is actually my girlfriend, but I didn't want my sexuality to make you uncomfortable.

Laurie's Boss: Oh, of course it doesn't make me uncomfortable! Actually I should have guessed. My little brother used to use "significant other" all the time for his boyfriend, Christopher.

Here, Laurie used "significant other" to hide the fact that she is a lesbian.

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