Apr 4, 2016

Speak English like an American (idiomatic expressions for LESSONS 21–25)

66 cards
  • LESSON 21
    1. make one’s day — to give one great satisfaction

      Our neighbors with the crazy dogs are moving away? That really makes my day!
      Thanks for bringing over those cookies last week. That made my day!

      • in that case — under that circumstance

        It’s snowing? In that case, you’d better take the bus to school today instead of driving.
        You forgot your wallet at home today? In that case, you can borrow five bucks from me for lunch.

        • track record — a record of achievements or performances

          The women’s basketball team at the University of Connecticut has an excellent track record.
          We’ve spoken to your past employers, so we know you’ve got an excellent track record.

          • look forward to — to anticipate eagerly

            I’m looking forward to my trip to Mexico next month.
            Ron has worked as a high school teacher for over 40 years. He’s really looking forward to retiring next year.

            • work out — to find a solution; to resolve

              Nicole spent half the night helping Ted work out a very difficult chemistry problem.
              Sally couldn’t work out her problems with her neighbors, so she finally decided to move away.

              Note: “Work out” has several other meanings, including:
              1. to succeed; prove effective. — This plan won’t work out — you’ll need to go back to the drawing board and work out a new plan.
              2. to endure; last. — Tony and Angela argue all the time. I don’t think their marriage will work out.
              3. to exercise. — After working out at the gym for two hours, Scott could barely walk.

              • be nuts about — to like very much

                Ted has every single Metallica album — he’s nuts about that band.
                We’re just nuts about our new neighbors. We have them over for dinner once a month.

                Synonym: crazy about

                • come to an agreement — to reach an agreement

                  If we can come to an agreement now, I can start work on Monday.
                  If you’re not willing to negotiate, it’s going to be very difficult for us to come to an agreement.

                  • on a shoestring — on a very low budget

                    Bob and Susan were living on a shoestring after Bob lost his job.
                    In the beginning, the Hewlett-Packard company ran on a shoestring out of a garage.

                    • all over — throughout; everywhere

                      Nicole’s classmates are from all over the world, including Argentina, Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, Poland, and Ukraine.
                      Oh no! I got ketchup all over my white sweater.

                      • nuts and bolts — details; basic components of something

                        I don’t need to know the nuts and bolts of how the computer works —just show me how to turn it on.
                        Simon really understands the nuts and bolts of how toilets work. He would be a very good plumber.

                        • be or get in touch with someone — to be or to get in contact with someone

                          I was surprised when Luis called me, since we hadn’t been in touch with each other since high school.
                          Leave me your contact information in case I need to get in touch with you while you’re on vacation.

                        • LESSON 22
                          1. strike it rich — to attain sudden financial success

                            Chad struck it rich with the winning lottery ticket.
                            Craig hopes to strike it rich so he can quit his job and open a winery in California.

                            • get it — to understand

                              I invited 40 people to my Thanksgiving dinner, but only 10 people came. I don’t get it!
                              Don’t you get it? Your company is about to go out of business!

                              • cup of tea — the type of person or thing that one generally likes

                                Hockey isn’t Alan’s cup of tea. He prefers soccer.
                                I know Joy is nice, but she’s simply not my cup of tea.

                                Note: This expression is almost always used in the negative. — She’s not my cup of tea.

                                • buy out — to purchase an entire business or someone’s share of a business

                                  Microsoft bought out Adam’s company for $12 million.
                                  Harriett and Jane sell homemade snack chips. They hope one day a big company will buy out their business.

                                  • nothing to do with someone or something — not have any relationship with someone; to not get involved with something

                                    After I found out that Nora shoplifted some lipstick from the drugstore, I wanted nothing to do with her.
                                    Larry asked Nick if he wanted to help him plan a robbery. Nick told Larry that he wanted nothing to do with it.

                                    • sell like hotcakes — to sell fast; to be a popular item

                                      Those new Fubu blue jeans are selling like hotcakes. All the girls love them.
                                      Stephen King’s new novel is selling like hotcakes.

                                      • dragon lady — a nasty woman who misuses her power

                                        Beth is a real dragon lady. She’s always screaming at her employees and blaming them for her mistakes. I hope she gets fired!
                                        Liz was nasty to you? I’m not surprised. She’s a dragon lady.

                                        Synonym: bitch (slang); shrew

                                        • better off — in a more fortunate position

                                          We’re better off leaving for France on Thursday evening, so we can spend the entire weekend there.
                                          If you’re interested in studying languages, you’d be better off attending Northwestern University than the University of Chicago.

                                          Note: This expression is often used with conditional tense (would), especially when you’re giving advice: “you would be better off doing something” or “you’d be better off doing something.”

                                          • no laughing matter — nothing to joke about; something serious

                                            When the tornado came into town, it was no laughing matter.
                                            Jim might have been fooling around when he hit John, but he really hurt him. It was no laughing matter.

                                            • What’s the matter? — What’s the problem?

                                              What’s the matter, Bob? You don’t look very happy.
                                              Oscar looks very pale. What’s the matter with him?

                                              • that’s the way the cookie crumbles — that’s the way things go sometimes and there’s nothing you can do about it

                                                You lost your job? That’s the way the cookie crumbles.
                                                Somebody drank your last can of Pepsi? Oh well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

                                                • rolling in dough — very rich

                                                  Susan and Bob don’t need to work anymore. They’re rolling in dough.
                                                  Adam will be able to retire young. He’s rolling in dough.

                                                  Note: This is a play on words. “Dough” means “money” as well as what is used to make cookies, breads, and pastries. The dough (cookies) made by Bob and Susan brought them lots of dough (money).

                                                  Synonyms: rolling in it; rolling in money; loaded

                                                  • it looks like — it’s likely that

                                                    It looks like I’ll be able to get out of work early today, so let’s plan on meeting downtown at 4:30.
                                                    It looks like it’s going to rain, so we’d better just cancel the picnic now.

                                                  • LESSON 23
                                                    1. come on in — enter

                                                      Come on in, the door’s open!
                                                      If nobody answers the door when you ring tonight, just come on in.

                                                      Note: This is a more conversational way of saying “come in.”

                                                      • no use crying over spilt milk — there’s no point in regretting something that’s too late to change

                                                        Nicole realized she’d made some mistakes with her campaign for president, but there was no use crying over spilt milk.
                                                        Your bike was ruined in an accident? There’s no use crying over spilt milk. You’ll just have to buy a new one.

                                                        • lose one’s head — to lose control of one’s behavior; to not know what one is doing

                                                          Nicole lost her head after losing the elections and started yelling at all her friends.
                                                          Remember to stay calm before the judge. Don’t get nervous and lose your head!

                                                          • at first — in the beginning

                                                            Nicole didn’t like Don Quixote at first, but after 200 pages she started to get into it.
                                                            Don’t get discouraged if you don’t succeed at first. The important thing is that you keep on trying!

                                                            • hold a grudge against someone — to stay angry with someone about a past offense

                                                              Nicole holds a grudge against Jenny for voting for Andrea instead of her.
                                                              Julia held a grudge against her boyfriend for not bringing her flowers on Valentine’s Day.

                                                              • on the job — at work

                                                                Jennifer has four men on the job painting her house.
                                                                Dan got fired for drinking on the job.

                                                                • get something straight — to clarify; to understand

                                                                  Are you sure you got the directions straight?
                                                                  Let me get this straight — you’re leaving your husband?

                                                                  • no hard feelings — no anger; no bitterness

                                                                    After the elections, Andrea said to Nicole, “I hope there are no hard feelings.”
                                                                    I know you were disappointed that I beat you in the golf tournament, but I hope there are no hard feelings.

                                                                    • Not on your life! — definitely not

                                                                      You want me to sit in that sauna for an hour? Not on your life!
                                                                      Thanks for offering me a job in Siberia. Am I going to take it? Not on your life!

                                                                      • let someone go — to fire; dismiss employees

                                                                        The investment bank let Chris go after they discovering he was stealing erasers, paper clips, and other office supplies.
                                                                        The Xerxes Corporation was doing so poorly, they had to let many workers go earlier this year.

                                                                        • level with someone — to speak openly and honestly with someone

                                                                          Let me level with you. I’m voting for Andrea instead of you.
                                                                          I have a feeling you’re not telling me the whole truth. Please just level with me.

                                                                          • small fortune — a good amount of money

                                                                            When her great aunt died, Anne inherited a small fortune.
                                                                            You won $25,000 in the lottery? That’s a small fortune!

                                                                            • get rid of — to free oneself of; to throw out

                                                                              We finally got rid of our spider problem, but now we have ants.
                                                                              I’ve got too many old magazines and newspapers in my office. I need to get rid of some of them.

                                                                              • get plastered (slang) — to get drunk

                                                                                Harold got plastered at the wedding and fell into the wedding cake.
                                                                                That’s your fifth martini. What are you trying to do, get plastered?

                                                                                Synonyms: to get loaded (slang); to get sloshed (slang)

                                                                                • three sheets to the wind — drunk

                                                                                  After drinking four beers, Bob was three sheets to the wind.
                                                                                  Somebody needs to make sure Greg gets home safely. He’s three sheets to the wind.

                                                                                  Synonyms: wasted (slang); liquored up (slang); dead drunk

                                                                                  • stop by — to pay a quick visit

                                                                                    I’m having some friends over for pizza tomorrow night. Why don’t you stop by?
                                                                                    Stop by my office on your way home tonight

                                                                                    • well off — wealthy; financially secure

                                                                                      Betsy’s grandfather used to be very well off, but he lost most of his fortune when the U.S. stock market crashed in 1929.
                                                                                      Debbie is a doctor and her husband is a lawyer. They’re quite well off.

                                                                                      • burn someone up — to make someone angry

                                                                                        Jenny didn’t vote for Nicole. That really burns Nicole up.
                                                                                        I can’t believe Kristen and Andrew didn’t invite us to their wedding. That really burns me up!

                                                                                      • LESSON 24
                                                                                        1. freak out (slang) — to respond to something irrationally or crazily; to overreact

                                                                                          Ashley’s parents freaked out when she told them she was dropping out of college to become an actress.
                                                                                          Don’t freak out when I tell you this, but I lost the laptop you lent me last week.

                                                                                          • all along — throughout; from beginning to end

                                                                                            Jenny told Nicole she would vote for her, but all along she was planning on voting for Andrea.
                                                                                            I never believed Joel when he told us he was marrying a princess from Denmark. I knew all along that he was lying.

                                                                                            • chill out (slang) — to relax

                                                                                              Chill out! If we miss this train, we’ll just take the next one.
                                                                                              Your dog ate your homework? Chill out, I’m sure your teacher will understand!

                                                                                              • be sick and tired of — to be completely bored with; to be sick of

                                                                                                Ted is sick and tired of hearing about what an excellent student Nicole is.
                                                                                                I’m sick and tired of this nasty weather we’ve been having!

                                                                                                • buy (some) time — to make more time available (in order to achieve a certain purpose)

                                                                                                  We’re not sure yet whether or not we want to buy the house. We’d better buy some time so we can think about it over the weekend.
                                                                                                  I’m not sure whether or not I want to take the job offer. I’d better buy some time to think about it.

                                                                                                  • first things first — let’s focus on the most important thing or task first

                                                                                                    You want to work here at Lulu’s Dance Club? First things first, have you ever worked as a dancer before?
                                                                                                    You want to ask your teacher if you can hand in your paper two weeks late? First things first, you’d better think of an excuse.

                                                                                                    • be in charge of — to have responsibility for

                                                                                                      John is in charge of all international sales for his company.
                                                                                                      Who’s in charge of making sure we don’t run out of toilet paper in the bathroom?

                                                                                                      • sure thing — an outcome that is assured

                                                                                                        Gary bet all his money on a horse named Trixie, thinking she was a sure thing.
                                                                                                        Nicole has a good chance of getting accepted to Yale, but it’s still not a sure thing.

                                                                                                        • make a fortune — to make a lot of money

                                                                                                          Adam made a fortune when he sold his company to Microsoft.
                                                                                                          Emma made a fortune selling candy to her classmates after lunch every day.

                                                                                                          Synonyms: to make a bundle; to make a killing

                                                                                                          • as a matter of fact — in fact; actually

                                                                                                            We need more milk? As a matter of fact, I was just going to ask you to go shopping.
                                                                                                            This isn’t the first time Andy has gotten in trouble at school. As a matter of fact, just last month he was suspended for an entire week.

                                                                                                            • in progress — happening; under way; going on now

                                                                                                              The play is already in progress, so you’ll have to wait until intermission to sit down.
                                                                                                              Once the test is in progress, you will not be allowed to leave the room.

                                                                                                              • all better — completely cured

                                                                                                                All better?” asked Maureen, after her son stopped crying.
                                                                                                                If you’re not all better, you shouldn’t go to work tomorrow.

                                                                                                                • cut it out — stop it; stop the annoying behavior

                                                                                                                  Tracy was chewing gum loudly during the movie. Her boyfriend finally told her to cut it out.
                                                                                                                  Cut it out! Stop trying to pull my shoes off!

                                                                                                                  • be crazy about — to like very much

                                                                                                                    Amy is so crazy about golf, she’d like to play every day.
                                                                                                                    I’m sure Katie will agree to go out on a date with Sam. She’s crazy about him!

                                                                                                                  • LESSON 25
                                                                                                                    1. wine and dine — to take someone out for an evening or an expensive meal

                                                                                                                      Donna wined and dined Bob and Susan and then presented them with a contract for the sale of Susan’s Scrumptious Cookies.
                                                                                                                      Kate was wined and dined during her trip to Santiago.

                                                                                                                      • break into — to enter or to be let into a profession

                                                                                                                        If you want to break into journalism, it’s a good idea to work on a college newspaper.
                                                                                                                        These days it’s difficult to break into investment banking.

                                                                                                                        Note: “Break into” has several other meanings:
                                                                                                                        1. to interrupt. — Boris and I were talking. Please don’t try to break into our conversation.
                                                                                                                        2. to enter illegally or by force. — Somebody broke into Peter’s house and stole his DVD player.
                                                                                                                        3. to suddenly begin an activity, such as singing. — After receiving the check from the National Cookie Company, Susan broke into song.

                                                                                                                        • cream of the crop — the best of a group

                                                                                                                          In the world of women’s tennis, the Williams sisters are the cream of the crop.
                                                                                                                          Of course you’ll get accepted to Harvard. Don’t forget, you’re the cream of the crop!

                                                                                                                          Synonym: crème de la crème

                                                                                                                          • Big deal! — So what? That doesn’t really matter.

                                                                                                                            You won five dollars in the lottery? Big deal!
                                                                                                                            Your father has a job with a big company in New York City? Big deal!

                                                                                                                            • foot the bill — to pay

                                                                                                                              You paid last time we went to the movies. Let me foot the bill this time.
                                                                                                                              Fortunately, whenever we go out to dinner with the boss, she foots the bill.

                                                                                                                              Synonym: to pick up the tab

                                                                                                                              • be out of it — not to be aware or knowledgeable about trends or modem habits

                                                                                                                                Don’t ask for Susan’s advice on fashion. She’s really out of it. She wears sneakers with everything.
                                                                                                                                Betsy has never even heard of Harry Potter. She’s really out of it!

                                                                                                                                Note: “Out of it” also means “confused” or “disoriented.” — After staying up all night studying, Ted felt out of it the next day.

                                                                                                                                • wrap up — to finish

                                                                                                                                  If you wrap up your homework by eight o’clock, we’ll have time to catch a movie tonight.
                                                                                                                                  Okay folks, let’s wrap up these exercises so we can go home early tonight.

                                                                                                                                  • get it — to understand

                                                                                                                                    I invited 40 people to my Thanksgiving dinner, but only 10 people came. I don’t get it!
                                                                                                                                    Don’t you get it? Your company is about to go out of business!

                                                                                                                                    • spending money — money for minor expenses

                                                                                                                                      Before Tim left for Europe, his parents gave him $400 in spending money.
                                                                                                                                      Martin’s parents are paying his college tuition, but he has to earn his own spending money.

                                                                                                                                      Synonym: pocket money

                                                                                                                                      • winning streak — a series of wins

                                                                                                                                        The basketball team hasn’t lost a game all season. They’re on a winning streak!
                                                                                                                                        You won 10 games in a row? You’re on a winning streak!

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