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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Second Nature

Idiom: second nature; used as a noun

First Example:
John trained Luana on a new job at work.  At first, she was very nervous about it, and she was afraid she would do it wrong.  But after doing it for a couple days, it became second nature to her.  She can't believe she ever thought this was difficult!

Meaning: "Second nature" is an adjective phrase that is used to describe a behavior or trait that has become such a habit, it almost seems to have been part of a person from birth. This idiom is usually used to describe something is easy and natural for one person (but not necessarily to other people).  In the example, Luana was at first nervous about her new task at work, but she quickly learned that it was actually very simple.  Notice that the phrase is followed by "to her."  While not required (as in the next example), "second nature" is commonly used with "to +person."

Here is another example:               
Son: Mom, do you think I'll pass my driving test?
Mom: I'm sure you'll be fine. And if you fail the first time, you can take it again later.
Son: I'm sure you passed your test the first time.
Mom: Actually, I failed my first two driving tests.
Son: Really?!  But you're such a good driver.
Mom: Like you, I was really scared during my driving tests.  Plus, I was a pretty terrible driver.  I ran a stop sign during my first test, and I hit another car in my second test before I could even leave the DMV. 
Son: Wow!  I didn't know that!
Mom: I've driven a lot since then, and now it's second nature; I don't even think about it when I drive.  I'm sure you'll be fine.  And think of this way: even if you fail the first time, you'll probably still do better than hitting a parked car in the parking lot.
Son: Thanks mom.

In this case, the son is nervous about his driving test since he's a new driver, but his mom explains that now that she has been driving for years, driving is second nature to her.  She doesn't even think about how to drive because she just knows how.

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

odds and ends

Idiom: odds and ends; used as a noun

First Example:
When Thomas changed jobs, he had to clean out his office.  He was surprised by all the odds and ends he found.  In addition to paperwork, receipts and normal office supplies, he found old birthday cards, a toothbrush, refrigerator magnets, a couple hangers, and a picture of his mom's dog.  He had forgotten why he had most of them.

Meaning: "Odds and ends" is a phrase that means miscellaneous items. This idiom is usually used when describing an assortment of things that are usually leftovers, and they are not usually valuable or important.  In the above example, Thomas found a number of strange things in his office that he had collected there over the years, so "odds and ends" is a perfect word to summarize the group of objects.

Here is another example:               
Shelley's purse is filled with various odds and ends, including a scarf, post-it notes, a single earring, 2 spoons, a empty water bottle, and a package of old cookies.  She really needs to clean out her purse more often!

In this case, Shelley has a number of odds and ends in her purse in addition to more normal things like makeup and her wallet. 

To understand "odds and ends" more clearly, it might help if you understand that the phrase originally comes from lumberyards (places where they cut wood).  After cutting a long piece of wood a certain length, there would be an "end" left over, and when cutting one large piece into multiple pieces of the same size, there would be an "odd" piece left over; hence "odds and ends."

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