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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

To have a sweet tooth

Context #1

Sara: Would you like a piece of this chocolate cake? It's so good!
Jim: No thank. I really don't have much of a sweet tooth.

Context #2

Cathy: When I was a little I ate too much candy. I had a lot of cavities.
Tom: I think that's pretty normal. Kids usually have a sweet tooth.

Meaning: "to have a sweet tooth" is an expression that means someone likes to eat sweet things like cookies, candy, cake, and other desserts.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Make Yourself at Home

Idiom: Make Yourself at Home: Make yourself comfortable in one's house and do not be so formal.

Context #1 

A friend is visiting his classmate’s home for the first time

Mark: Hey, Mannie! I’m so glad you came. Please come in and make yourself at home.
Mannie: Hi, Mark. Thank you. Umm…where should I sit?
Mark: Why are you being so formal? Please, sit anywhere you would like. Also, if you want anything to eat or drink, feel free to go into the kitchen and get it.
Mannie: Thanks, again.
Mark: Don’t mention it. My house is your house!

Context #2 

Two roommates talking about a visitor after she left

Cassandra: Thank goodness Sherry is gone! Can you even believe how she acted while visiting our home?
Tabitha: It was so outrageous! She just made herself at home like she owned the place.
Cassandra: Did you see her just open the fridge and take out that bottle of wine without even asking us? She must have poured herself at least two glasses!
Tabitha: Unbelievable. We aren’t inviting her over again. I don’t like it when people we don’t know very well act so casually around us. I mean, we should be good friends before she starts making herself at home and drinking all our wine.
Cassandra: I agree.

Explanation: “Make yourself at home” means for someone to be comfortable in another person’s house and to not act so formally. In context 1, Mark knows Mannie very well from class and encourages him to “make himself at home” and to act in a less formal way. This is typically how we use this idiom. However, in context 2, Cassandra and Tabitha are upset that Sherry, a person they did not know very well, just “made herself at home” or acted really casually in their house. It was not appropriate for Sherry to act this way since she was not asked to make herself at home and she did not know Tabitha and Cassandra very well. 

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Make a Mountain out of a Molehill

Idiom: To make a mountain out of a molehill – to make something seem bigger in importance than what it really is; to exaggerate the importance of something that is not very important

Context #1 

Two co-workers are talking during their break

Dan: What’s wrong, Juan? You look upset.
Juan: Oh, I’m OK. It’s just Bob, my boss is visiting from head office today. He took me into the conference room for a private 30-minute meeting and practically yelled at me the entire time.
Dan: Really? I can’t imagine why since you are the perfect employee.
Juan: He said that I had too many papers on my desk and that I need to put them away so that my desk doesn’t look so messy.
Dan: Seriously? That’s so crazy. Well, you know Bob, he always makes a mountain out of a molehill.
Juan: Yes, he does. What small thing will he find the next time he visits?

Context #2  

Two roommates arguing

Samira:  Umm, Polly. Look at this mess!
Polly: What mess? What are you talking about?
Samira: The cushions on the sofa are crooked and the blanket is not even folded!
Polly: You are making a mountain out of a molehill, Samira! The cushions don’t have to be perfectly straight all the time and blanket doesn’t always need to be folded. That’s not natural when you have people using the sofa every day.
Samira: Well, it just takes a few minutes to straighten everything out.
Polly: That’s just weird. I live in the normal world, so I’m leaving everything like this.

Meaning: To make a mountain out of a molehill means to exaggerate the importance of something that is not important at all.  In context 1, Juan, a model employee, is upset because his boss yelled at him for leaving a few papers on his desk (something not important to his job). In context 2, Samira is demanding that the cushions on the couch always be straight and the blanket always folded. Polly thinks that is asking too much, or that Samira is exaggerating the importance of the situation.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Go with the flow

Example 1:

Cody: Wow! This is such a fancy party. I’m not sure that I’ll know who to talk to or what to talk about.
Jada: Don’t think about it too much, just go with the flow. I’m sure you’ll find interesting people and have interesting conversations.
Cody: You think so? I hope I don’t get too shy.
Jada: I’m sure everyone feels that way here.

Example 2:

Lucy: I went out with Karl last week and I wasn’t sure how he felt about me.
Kathrin: So what did you do? Did you guys have a good time? Did you have great conversations?
Lucy: I just went with the flow and everything turned out great. I think he likes me.


To go with the flow means to follow whatever the situation is or whatever people are doing. In the first example, Cody wasn’t sure how to interact with people at an upscale party; to which Jada replied that he should just do whatever everyone was doing or go with the flow. In the second example, Lucy explains that she didn’t know how her date felt about her, but after following his lead, or his actions (went with the flow), she discovered that he liked her.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Horse of a different color

Example 1:

Jason: I was looking to ask May out on Friday. What do you think?
Freddy: Finally, you keep talking about her but you never actually do anything about it.
Jason: It’s not so much that I am afraid of asking her out; it’s her brother I’m worried about. That’s a horse of a different color. He’s always intimidating people asking his sister out.
Freddy: Yeah, good luck with that.

Example 2:

Alexa: Do you think we should go to Europe like we planned? Or should we go to Asia?
Axel: Whoa, going to Asia? That’s a horse of a different color. I think you should really consider where you really want to go because Europe and Asia are two very different places.


A horse of a different color means that something or someone are completely different things or choices. In the first example, Jason was trying to explain May and May’s brother as completely different people with different personalities to deal with. Although the two people are siblings, they are different in many ways.  In the second example, it seems that Alexa was initially thinking about visiting Europe, but after further consideration, she began to wonder about Asia. Axel explains that they are completely different places and that she should really consider the choices before making a decision. 

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Keep me in the loop/ be in the loop

Example 1:

Seth: So what’s happening for Marty’s birthday on Friday?
John: We’re meeting at 6 pm for dinner at the new restaurant in downtown. Do you know which one it is?
Seth: Yes, I’ve seen it but I can’t remember the name. Anyway, I’ll be there! Keep me in the loop in case anything changes.
John: Sure thing. See you!

Example 2:

Marty: Hey, John! Thanks for organizing this awesome dinner for my birthday. I just wish Seth could have made it. I was hoping he would be here.
John: Oh, yeah. That’s totally my fault. I didn’t keep him in the loop once we changed locations. He didn’t know we moved the party. I’m sorry.
Marty: I’ll give him a call. We’re just starting, so there’s a chance he can still come.


To keep someone in the loop is to keep them informed/updated on a plan or project. In the first example, Seth asks John to keep him in the loop / keep him informed about Marty’s party. In example 2, John admits that he didn’t keep Seth in the loop, meaning he didn’t give him the updates on the party changes, so he missed it.
You can also use this expression with the be-verb instead of keep.
Sean is in the loop. He has all the updated information.
Seth wasn’t in the loop. He didn’t get the new address for the party.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

To be under fire

Idiom: to be under fire; used as a verb

First Example:

Jen: What's going on in the office? It seems like everyone is being really secretive.
Tom: I heard that Hank Silva is under fire for lying to clients.       
Jen: What?!
Tom: I don't know all the info, but a number of clients have complained that they were promised more than they received. Some of the clients and even other employees are demanding he be fired, but management is doing an internal investigation.

Meaning: The expression "the be under fire" means that a person is being criticized. In the above example, Tom says that Hank is "under fire" because he's being criticized by clients and other employees. The expression comes from warfare, where "under fire" means that a person is under attack. However, the expression is now also used when someone is just being attacked verbally with criticism. The word "come" is also often used with "under fire" when discussing a situation when someone has recently "come under fire," as in the next example.

Second Example:

The politician recently came under fire after she made a controversial statement about immigration. Party officials attacked her for her statement, and many voters in her district are demanding an apology.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

10 Uses of "Hot"

In honor of the weather in Los Angeles this week, here are ten different ways Americans use the word "hot."

1. at a very high temperature; capable of burning

Wife: Be careful near the stove! It's hot. I just cooked something.
Husband: Thanks for the warning! I wouldn't want to burn myself.

2. at a temperature higher than normal

Mom: Your forehead is so hot!
Son: Does that mean I don't have to go to school?
Mom: With a fever like that, you have to go back to bed.

3. spicy

Mina: I love Thai food. I'm going to order "drunken noodles" very hot.
Tim: I can't eat anything too spicy. Can we order it medium?

4. intense emotion

Robert: Wow! Did you see Tina yell at that guy in the parking lot?
Michelle: Yeah! I didn't realize she had such a hot temper.

5. popular

Ingrid: Did you get Beyoncé tickets?
Todd: I couldn't. She's so hot right now, they sold out instantly.

6. causing a lot of new interest

George: How was Coachella?
Kimberly: It was amazing. And I saw the hottest band early Saturday afternoon. Everyone was talking about their performance the rest of the day. I think they're going to be huge in a couple years.

7. stolen

Jason: So Steve just called me from jail. He got arrested.
Karen: Really? What happened?
Jason: He was with a friend who was driving a hot car.
Karen: Did Steve know it was stolen?
Jason: I don't think so. Want to go with me to bail him out of jail?

8. attractive

Karla: Your trainer is so hot! He's gorgeous!
Hailey: Why do you think I've been coming to the gym so much lately?

9. attracted to

Hailey: Remember my trainer?
Karla: The gorgeous one? How could I forget?
Hailey: Turns out, he's hot for me too. We're going on a date tonight.
Karla: I'm so jealous! Have fun!

10. very good (often used with "not" in a negative way)

Nicole: How are you feeling?
Eric: Not so hot. I think I'm going to take today off work and go to the doctor.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

On the Spur of the Moment

On the spur of the moment: to do something suddenly or without planning     

Context #1 

Two students talking after class

Vinnie: Hey, Megan. How was your weekend?

Megan: It was fantastic! We spent the weekend hanging out at Huntington Beach. It was so relaxing.

Vinnie: Wow, I didn't know that you had planned a weekend at the beach.

Megan: I didn't plan it at all. My roommate just decided to go there on the spur of the moment and asked me to come along. It took very little to persuade me!

Context #2 

Two friends are talking in a coffee shop

Sam:  Hey, Pete. I saw you yesterday with Francesca at that new restaurant on Wilshire Blvd. How did you get a date with her? She is beautiful and smart!

Pete:  Well, I still can't believe we went out. I'm always so nervous around her. On Friday, I just happened to see her after class and asked her out to dinner on the spur of the moment. 

Sam: And she said "yes" right away?

Pete: She didn't even hesitate! I'm so glad I took the chance and asked her out because she is a really nice person. I want to ask her out again, but next time I'll plan it.

Meaning: “On the spur of the moment” means to do something suddenly or without a plan. In Context 1, Megan and her roommate decided to spend the weekend at the beach without any previous planning, or on the spur of the moment. In Context 2, Pete had not planned to ask Francesca out, but he did it on the spur of the moment and she said "yes."

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

On a Shoestring

Idiom: On a Shoestring – with a very small amount of money    

Context #1 

Two student talking after class

Vickey: Hey, Mac. Do you know if that part-time position at the bookstore on campus is still available?

Mac: I’m not sure. Don’t you already work part-time at a restaurant and you are a full-time student?

Vickey: Yes, but I’ve been living on a shoestring for the past year and I really need to make more money in order to pay the rent.

Mac: I know how you feel. I lived on a shoestring all through college. When I finally graduated and found a high-paying job, it was such a relief. Let’s walk over to the bookstore now and check on that part-time job.

Context #2 

Two friends are talking about the restaurant where they work

Sierra:  Wow, it has been so slow the past few months. The boss cut my hours again this week. Now, I’m only working 3 hours a day during the evening shift.

Peter:  Yes, me too. I guess they are running this restaurant on a shoestring until the business gets better. They even cut down on the number of items on the menu in order to save money.

Sierra: Well, I hope it gets better soon. At this rate, I’ll need to find another part-time job.

Meaning: “On a shoestring” means to do something, like run a business or manage one’s budget, with very little money.  In context #1, Vickey is looking for another part-time job because she is living on a shoestring budget and needs to make more money to pay rent. In context #2, Sierra and Peter are working at a restaurant that must run on very little money since business is down. 

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