Search This Blog


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Personal Space

Idiom: personal space; used as a noun. 

First Example:
Erica: Matt is so weird!  He's always invading my personal space.
Christina: Me too!  He always stands too close.  Do you think he just does it to girls?
Erica: I don't know.  Let's ask Tom.  Hey Tom!
Tom: Yes?
Christina: Erica and I have a question.  We noticed that Matt sometimes gets a little too close.  Does he do that to you as well?
Tom: Yes!  He apparently doesn't understand what personal space is.

Meaning: "Personal space" is an invisible border around a person that is considered unacceptable to cross. While the exact size varies by person and culture, most people feel uncomfortable if someone else stands closer than approximately 2 feet from him/her.  In the above example, Erica, Christina and Tom all agree that Matt often stands too close; most likely, Matt's idea of personal space is just smaller than theirs.  Notice that Erica uses the verb "invade" to describe the way Matt crosses this invisible line; most people think of the area directly around themselves as their own, personal space, and it is an invasion of privacy to cross it.

Here is another example:
Daniel: I hate the subway after work! 
Helen: Why? 
Daniel: Everyone is so crammed in there.  I get claustrophobic*.
Helen: Weird.  I hate when other people invade my personal space too, but it doesn't really bother me on the subway.  I guess it's because I know it's not their fault.
Daniel: You're lucky. I flip out when strangers are that close.

*claustrophobia is a fear of small spaces.

Meaning: In this case, Daniel and Christina are talking about the crowded subway. For most people (like Helen), personal space invasions don't bother them as much when it's caused by a crowd; however, some people (like Daniel) are so bothered by personal space invasions that they become frightened. 

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

No comments:

Post a Comment