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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

To Beat ___self Up

Idiom: to beat ___self up; used as a verb

First Example:

Seonho: Why are you crying, Karla?

Karla: I got a bad grade on my essay today. (sniff) I think I'm going to fail the class.

Seonho: Well, don't beat yourself up over it. I think everyone got a bad grade.

Karla: Really?

Seonho: Yeah. I got a 65, and Mario barely passed with a 70. In fact, I don't think anyone has ever gotten an A on an essay from Mr. Clark.

Karla: Thanks. I thought it was my fault, like maybe I was stupid.

Seonho: No, it's not your fault. He's really picky. But his tests are easy.

Meaning: "Beat ___self up" means to judge or blame oneself too strongly. When used, "beat ___self up" suggests that someone did something wrong or failed at a task, and he or she is now blaming him/herself more than anyone else would. In the example above, Karla blames herself for getting a bad grade, but Seonho tells her that she shouldn't blame herself so strongly since Mr. Clark always gives bad grades. This idiom always uses a reflexive pronoun, and when used with an object, this idiom generally uses the preposition "over," as underlined above. However, it doesn't always need an object. Look at the following example.

Second Example:

Angela: Who was that on the phone?

Jeff: Christina. I need to go pick her up.

Angela: Why, what happened?

Jeff: She got into an accident.

Angela: Oh no! Was anyone hurt?

Jeff: No, she's fine, and so is the other driver, but the cars aren't. She's really beating herself up.

Angela: Why?

Jeff: She says it was her fault. A dog ran out in front of her car, so she swerved quickly. Instead of hitting the dog, she hit the driver coming the other way. Insurance will cover everything, and the other driver sounds like a nice guy, but she's really mad at herself.

Angela: Well, I'm glad she didn't hit the dog.

In this case, Christina is beating herself up because she caused an accident. Of course, Christina is at fault for the accident, but because of the situation, no one else is really mad at her. Notice that the idiom is used in this case without the preposition "over" or an object.

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

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