Search This Blog


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

To be (all) set

Context #1

Tom: "We have a big exam today.  Are you ready for it?"
Sam: "Yeah, I studied all night.  I'm all set."

Context #2
Kathy (on the phone): "Hey Jane, I'm on my way and I'll be there in about 10 minutes to pick you up.
Jane: "No problem.  I'm all set and ready to go."

Meaning: "to be (all) set" is an American idiom that is used to express the meaning of being ready and prepared for something.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018


Example 1: Two friends discussing weekend plans
Barry: What are you doing this weekend?
Iris: I’m going out with (my) bae to the beach.
Barry: Oh, I didn’t know you were in a relationship.
Iris: My bae is all I think about.

Example 2:
Nusret: I’m going to start a steak house
Henry:  Why? What’s so special about the meat you will sell compared to others?
Nusret:  I will only buy the best, most expensive meat, and perform for my clients by pouring salt in a fun way.
Henry:  Is it a gimmick?
Nusret:  No, it’s entertainment.  I’ll film the videos and attract people to come.  No one has ever done it.  I’ll be the first, before anyone else.  I will call myself “Salt Bae.”


Bae is an acronym for “Before Anyone Else.”  It’s more typically used to describe someone’s significant other (Example 1).  However, many people think it means baby or babe, but that’s incorrect.  It means to do something first that no one else has.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

To twist someone’s arm

Example 1: Two friends discussing evening plans
Lana: What should we do tonight?
Betty: Let’s just stay home. I don’t want to get dressed up to go out.
Lana: That sounds so boring! Let’s go to the new club that everyone at school is talking about.
Betty: I don’t know… I’m already sleepy and if we go out, we’ll be out pretty late.
Lana: Come on! It’ll be so fun! Since it’s spring break, I bet there will be lots of cute guys there from out of town! You know you want to!
Betty: OK, OK! You’ve twisted my arm. Let’s start getting ready. What should I wear….?

Example 2: Boyfriend and Girlfriend discussing weekend plans
GF: So… my cousin is having a party on Saturday. It should be really fun. It would also be a good chance to meet some of my family.
BF: Oh, really? Hmm, I’m not sure if I have to work this weekend or not.
GF: But you never have to work on Saturday nights. This week is different?
BF: Uh, yeah. I think so. I have to check my schedule.
GF: You know what I think? I think you’re lying to me about having to work; you’re just not interested in meeting my family. I don’t want to have to twist your arm if you don’t want to go. I want you to come with me only if you really want to. Just tell me the truth and I’ll try to understand. Lying isn’t going to help our relationship, you know.
BF: I’m sorry, you’re right. I’m really nervous to meet your family. Please just give me more time.
GF: Okay, that’s all you have to say!

To twist someone’s arm means to work to convince someone to do something they might not want to do. Sometimes it’s used similarly to force. Please note: people are not actually twisting someone’s arm physically!

In example 1, the friends are discussing their plans. Betty doesn’t really want to go out, but Lena convinces her by reminding her that she can meet cute guys at the club.

In example 2, the girlfriend is almost angry in feeling that she has to force her boyfriend to go to a family party with her.

Some more example sentences:
You’ll have to twist my arm to see that movie! I really don’t like the actress.
Johnny didn’t want to come to the baby shower. I had to twist his arm.
Let’s get some ice cream! … Great idea! You don’t have to twist my arm!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

suck at

suck at: bad at doing something

Situation #1: Two coworkers

Bill: Can you help me with this spreadsheet? I can't figure out the right formula
Linda: Probably not. I suck at Excel.
Bill: Could you take a look at it?
Linda: Sure... Yeah, I don't know what I'm looking at. Have you asked Karla? She's great at Excel.
Bill: No. I'll ask her. Thanks.

Explanation: Bill was having trouble with a formula in Excel and asked for Linda's help, but she said that she sucks at Excel, which means she is not good in that software.

Situation #2: A group of friends is playing basketball and another one joins.
Todd: Hey, Greg! Come join us!
Greg: No, that's ok. I'll just watch.
Brian: No! Join us! Todd's team has one more player than us, so you will make us even.
Greg: You don't want me on your team. I suck at basketball.
Brian: You couldn't make us any worse! We're already down by 10 points.
Greg: Ok.
Todd: Great! Now Brian can't keep saying that he's losing because of uneven numbers!

Explanation: Todd and Brian are playing basketball (on different teams), and they both ask Greg to join them. Greg says that he sucks at basketball, but Brian convinces him by pointing out that his team is one player short, and that his team is already losing anyway. 


Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Salty: Upset, annoyed or angry

Situation #1: Two friends are talking after school

Janette: Hi, Anne. How are you doing?
Anne: Who wants to know?
Janette: I'm just asking how you are.
Anne: So what?
Janette: Hey, don't get salty with me just because you are having a bad day! I didn't do anything.
Anne: I guess you're right. Sorry. Mondays suck.

Explanation: Janette was having a bad day and was acting angry and being rude to her friend. Her friend told Janette not to "get salty" or "be angry/rude" with her because she didn't do anything to cause Janette's anger. 

Situation #2: Two co-workers talking about their boss after work
Bill: I can't believe I made it through the day!
Sandi: I know! Fred was so salty today. I couldn't even look at him.
Bill: What was his problem anyway?
Sandi: Well, I heard that he thinks everyone is being lazy at work and not putting in the amount of time he expects.
Bill: That may be true for a few people, but not everyone. I certainly put in a lot of time and often work late.
Sandi: Me, too. But I don't think he sees us working hard. He only sees the lazy people. That's why he is always salty at work.

Explanation: Fred, the boss, is salty because he thinks everyone at work is lazy. This means he is irritated and angry with his employees.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

To be blown away

Example 1:
Terry: I just got back from vacation and I had a wonderful time!

Sandy: Oh, really? Where did you go?

Terry: I went to Montego Bay in Jamaica. It was absolutely amazing! There was so much to do and the beautiful sunsets on the beach just blew me away! I really didn’t want to come back to work!

Sandy: Wow! That sounds great. I bet it was hard to come back home!

Example 2:
Ken: I just watched a news report last night on how poverty is so widespread in countries around the world. What is even worse is that people in those countries have a difficult time doing anything about their lives. Also, it is very hard to get clean food, water, and medical supplies to the ones who need them. 

Joe: It blows me away how difficult life can be for so many people around the world. We should feel lucky to live in a place where we don’t have to worry about getting clean food and water every day.

The expression to be blown away is used to express surprise or shock at something that has happened. It can be used in both negative and positive situations. 

In the first example, Terry just came back from an amazing vacation. The beauty of the place he visited surprised him in a very positive way. 

In the second example, Ken and Joe are talking about poverty in the world and how hard it is for some people to survive. Joe is shocked in a negative way about this fact.

This idiom can be found in the LSI textbook Speaking Transitions. This book is used at LSI schools in the level 4 Listening/Speaking classes.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

To look after

Idiom: to look after (something/someone); used as a verb.

First Example: Herb was going on vacation, but he was worried about his cat, so he asked Cindy to take care of it. She agreed, and she looked after his cat while Herb was out of town.

Meaning: "to look after (something)" means to take care of something, often something that isn't yours. In this example, Cindy is taking taking care of Herb's cat while he's out of town. This idiom can apply to any situation where someone takes care of something else, but it's usually used for people and things that can't take care of themselves or are likely to get into trouble (such as an animal, a child or an elderly person). It's used in the simple past tense in this example to explain that she isn't caring for the cat anymore.
Here is another example:

Second Example: Both of Billy's parents work, and they don't get home until after 6:00 pm. Billy is old enough to be alone, but his little sister, Melody, isn't, so Billy looks after Melody until his parents get home.

Meaning: In this case, Billy is looking after his little sister, who is too young to take care of herself and might get into trouble if left alone. This idiom can be used for short-term care (such as the first example, which only happened for a few days/weeks) or long-term care (such as this example, which happens every school day). In this example, it's used in the simple present tense to clarify that Billy regularly does this.
This idiom is from LSI's book "Speaking Transitions," which is used in the Level 4 Listening/Speaking classes.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

To mingle

Example 1:

Jason: I really want to make many friends while I'm here in the USA. Do you have any advice for me, Shelby?

Shelby: Well, I think you should try to mingle with your classmates as much as possible. Don't be shy. Introduce yourself to as many people as you can. You can meet many people this way!

Jason: Thanks! I'm going to a party tomorrow night. I will try it!

Example 2:

I took my girlfriend to my company's holiday party last weekend. As soon as we arrived, she started introducing herself to all of my co-workers. She mingled with everyone all night! I didn't see her again until we were ready to go home.


to mingle 
verbit means to mix socially with other people when at a party or other social occasion. This verb implies that the person who is mingling is moving from one person to another to meet and/or chat for a brief period. A person who mingles does not stay in one place with one specific person/group for very long.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Significant other

Idiom: significant other; used as a noun.

First Example:

Christina: Bryan, I just got a wedding invitation from my friend, Ryan. Would you like to go with me?

Bryan: Sure, but can you bring a guest?

Christina: Hmm. Well, it says the only guests allowed are children and significant others.

Bryan: Then I don't think I should go. Roommates don't count as "significant others."

Meaning: "Significant other" is used as a vague term for another person's partner in a romantic relationship. It is often used formally in things like invitations, when it's possible the person could have a husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend. In the above example, Bryan says he can't go because "significant other" means more than a friend or roommate. However, "significant other" can also be used informally, either because a person wants to keep his/her private life secret, or in a question to find out a person's relationship status and/or sexual orientation.

Second Example:

Laurie's Boss: Who was that on the phone?

Laurie: My significant other - I need to pick up some eggs on the way home.
Here, Laurie is avoiding telling her boss what her relationship is exactly to the person who called her, so she just said it was her "significant other."

Third Example:

Laurie's Boss: Why do you always use "significant other?" Why don't you just say "boyfriend" or "husband"?

Laurie: Because "Susan" is actually my girlfriend, but I didn't want my sexuality to make you uncomfortable.

Laurie's Boss: Oh, of course it doesn't make me uncomfortable! Actually I should have guessed.My little brother used to use "significant other" all the time for his boyfriend, Christopher.
Here, Laurie used "significant other" to hide the fact that she is a lesbian.
This idiom is from LSI's book "Reading Horizons," which is used in the Level 6 Reading classes. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Those three little words

First Example:

Rachel: How was your weekend?
Charlene: Fantastic! Tom took me to a really amazing restaurant, and then we went for a walk on the beach.
Rachel: Aww! That sounds so sweet!
Charlene: And then the best part - he finally said those three little words I've been waiting for.
Rachel: Wow! So you guys are really getting serious! 
Charlene: I think so.

Meaning: The expression "those three little words" refers to the phrase "I love you."  Since "I love you" is considered such a strong and powerful thing to say, we often use the phrase "those three little words" to refer to the phrase in conversation.  Usually, this is used when at least one person in a couple hasn't said it to the other, but it can also be used for the first time one partner says "I love you" to the other, as in the above example.  In this example, Charlene is excited because Tom finally told her that he loved her.  

Here is another example:

Dale: How are things going in your new relationship?
Colby: Pretty well.  I can't believe we met online.
Dale: How long have you guys been going out?
Colby: A little over a month.
Dale: Wow! If you don't watch out, someone's gonna slip up and say those three little words!
Colby: It wouldn't surprise me. I'm actually really happy
Dale: Glad to hear it.  You two seem like a really great match.

In this instance, Colby says that his new relationship is going really well, and Dale jokingly warns that someone is going to slip up (which means "make a mistake") and say "I love you" to the other.  This expression is often used in contexts such as this, when a relationship is getting serious but no one has said "I love you" to the other person yet.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

To have (something) both ways

Idiom: to have (something) both ways; used as a verb.

First Example: Mario has been dating Erika for six months, but he also likes Tina and would like to ask her out. Mario wants to have it both ways. He would like to date both Erika and Tina.

Meaning: to have (something or it) both ways means to get the best of a situation by getting the benefits of two opposite things. In this example, Mario likes his relationship with Erika, but he also likes Tina. However, he can't date both of them at the same time because he has been dating Erika for six months. This idiom can apply to any situation where there are two opposite things that can't be done at the same time. It's used as an infinitive in this example. 
Here is another example: 

Second Example: John works long hours and makes a lot of money, but he would like to have more time off to do the things he enjoys. However, John can't have it both ways. He either works hard and makes a lot of money, or he takes more time off and makes less money. 

Meaning: In this case, the two opposite things are working a lot and taking more time off. John can't make a lot of money if he does both of these things at the same time. He must choose one thing. In this example, it's used with the modal "can't." 
This idiom is from LSI's book "Speaking Savvy," which is used in the Level 5 Listening/Speaking classes. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Get shredded

Example 1: 

John: Did you try the new exercise routine by Arnold Schwarzenegger? It's guaranteed to get you shredded! 

Paul: OMG! I have to try it! 

John: Totally, man! I can teach you but be prepared for a lot of physical pain.  

Paul: You can count on me! 

Meaning: Means well defined muscles especially in the arms and abs.

Visit our website: