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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

To Fend for Oneself

To Fend for Oneself
Meaning: To take care of oneself without help.

Example 1:

Tom: Oh, my! What a cute little kitten!

Sarah: Yes, isn’t she adorable? I just found her yesterday in the back yard of my parents’ house. She was all alone and in good health. I was surprised because she is so young and it is hard for a kitten to fend for herself without a mother cat.

Tom: Yes, that is surprising. Usually baby animals have a hard time surviving by themselves. It’s really great that she was able to fend for herself and stay healthy at the same time.

Sarah: Yes, I know. We want to pick out a good name for her that shows how strong she is. Do you have any ideas?

Tom: Well, you could call her “Kick Butt Kitty!”

Sarah: Ha ha! That’s cute, but a little too long.

Example 2:
Ken: Did you hear about Kevin’s mom?

Jack: No, what happened?

Ken: She was in a terrible car accident and will be in the hospital for at least two months!

Jack: Oh, no! And his father left them a long time ago, so he only has his mom!

Ken: Yes, on top of that, Kevin’s mom does everything for him even though he is 20 years old. I’m worried about him. I don’t think he will be able to fend for himself while she is gone.

Jack: Yes, that’s going to be really tough. I don’t think he even knows how to make a sandwich. He might starve! How will he eat? What about his clothes? Who will clean them?

Ken: Well, I told him last summer that he should come camping with me for two weeks in the wilderness. It’s a tough trip, but he could have learned how to fend for himself and not be so dependent on his mother.

Jack: He’ll have to find a job, too so that he can pay the rent and buy gas for his car. I guess he is going to learn really fast how to fend for himself!

Ken: Yes. I hope he can do it.

To Fend for Oneself means to take care of oneself without the help of others. In the first example, the kitten was able to fend for herself alone outside even though she was just a baby. In the second example, Kevin depends completely on his mother for every part of his life, so when his mother is in the hospital, Kevin’s friends are worried they he won’t be able to fend for himself.

This idiom can be found in the 2nd edition of Reading Horizons. This book is used at LSI schools in the level 6 Reading/Vocabulary classes. For more information, please visit:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

To Zero in On

Meaning: Direct one's attention to, concentrate or focus on

Example 1:
Tom: Did you hear about that big bank robbery yesterday on Main Street?

Sarah: No! What happened?

Tom: Well, a couple of guys dressed up as clowns went into the bank around 1:00 yesterday and stole almost $100,000 in cash!

Sarah: Really? Do the police have any idea who the robbers could be?

Tom: Well, the police have zeroed in on a couple of guys working at a local circus that is in town for a few weeks. They think perhaps that is where the guys got their wigs and make up for the clown costumes. Plus, the men were seen running toward the circus area after robbing the bank.

Sarah: Well, I guess it wasn’t too hard to zero in on those two. They must not be very smart!

Example 2:
Ken: So, have you found a new house yet.

Jack: Well, we have been looking at so many different houses in the past couple of weeks, but we haven’t zeroed in on any one special house yet.

Ken: Don’t worry. Take your time so that you find the house that is just right for you.

Jack: Yes, I know. But I don’t want to take too long because the kids are tired of living in this small apartment we rented while looking for a house.

Ken: I’m sure after looking at all those different houses, you’ll be able to zero in on one soon and move in right away.

Jack: I hope so!

To Zero in On means to direct one’s attention to someone or something or to focus on someone or something. In the first example, the police have zeroed in on who the bank robbers are since they were seen running toward a certain area of town. In the second example, Ken is trying to find a new house, but has not zeroed in on a house yet because he has looked at so many different houses.

This idiom can be found in the 2nd edition of Reading Horizons. This book is used at LSI schools in the level 6 Reading/Vocabulary classes. For more information, please visit: