I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.

Question: What did Groucho Marx and Winston Churchill have in common, apart from their love of cigars?

Answer: They were both brilliant with words and wordplay (jeu de mots) and remain today, the great princes of paraprosdokians.

A paraprosdokian is a wordplay, loved by satirists. It is usually a short phrase that features two ideas.

The first idea is often positive or an expression the listener may identify with, such as this one from Groucho Marx:

She got her good looks from her father… (Elle a eu sa beauté de son père...)

The second part of the phrase has the dramatic effect, a kind of verbal ambush (embuscade) , and forces the listener to reinterpret the complete phrase.

She got her good looks from her father; he’s a plastic surgeon (il est chirurgien plasticien).

 

Groucho Marx

 

Here are some more examples from Groucho Marx:

I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.

I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

 

The term paraprosdokian comes from Greek; para meaning against and prosdokian meaning expectation.

Paraprosdokians are not limited to humour, as British philosopher, historian and writer Bertrand Russell observed with this famous line:

War doesn’t determine who is right, only who is left.

 

Winston Churchill

 

Winston Churchill was much more mischievous and literally had them rolling in the aisles of parliament with his famous paraprosdokian putdowns:

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.

If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.

Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.

 

Here are some other famous paraprosdokians:

They begin the evening news with ‘Good Evening,’ then proceed to tell you why it isn’t – Unknown

If I am reading this graph correctly – I’d be very surprised – US television satirist Stephen Colbert

He was at his best when the going was goodAlistair Cooke on the Duke of Windsor

You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing after they have tried everything elseWinston Churchill

On his feet he woreblistersAristotle

A modest man, who has much to be modest aboutWinston Churchill on Clement Attlee

If I could just say a few words I’d be a better public speakerHomer Simpson

 

Zsa Zsa Gabore

 

He taught me housekeeping; when I divorce I keep the houseZsa Zsa Gabore

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is researchWilson Mizner, American playwright

Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with – Unknown

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machineRobert C Gallagher

The only thing standing between greatness and me, is meWoody Allen

 

 

Today is not a good day to be a turkey

The USA starts its craziest long weekend today.

Thanksgiving Day is today, Thursday, followed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Of course, there is a story behind each day, that over the years has been shaped to fit to the appetites of modern life, which could be best described as gluttony and consumerism.

Let’s start with gluttony. Thanksgiving is not a good time to be a turkey. About 45 million turkeys will be consumed.

You don’t have to be an animal rights supporter to feel a bit of empathy for the turkey. Unlike the first Europeans, the turkey is no newcomer to this land. It’s a true native. The earliest turkeys can be traced back some 20 million years and were first domesticated by the indigenous people of Mexico about 2000 years ago.

 

 

Thanksgiving, as the name suggests, was a feast of thanks for the first harvest, celebrated by the newly arrived Plymouth colonists, a group of religious refugees known as separatist puritans (big fans of our own Jean Calvin) in 1621. The population was just 50. They were the survivors. Almost half of the original pilgrims of 1620 died during the first Winter. The majority of the guests were in fact the indigenous people; Wampanoag chief Massasoit and 90 of his men are said to have supplied five deer for the feast.

 

In retrospect, today’s Wampanoag people might not view this meal as a feast of thanks

 

The Wampanoag people taught the poorly equipped Europeans how to cultivate the varieties of corn, squash, and beans (known as the Three Sisters) that flourished in New England, as well as how to catch and process fish and collect seafood. They enabled the Pilgrims to survive their first winters.

We have no record of the feast menu, but we do know that fowl was plentiful. They may have eaten duck, geese, swan or turkey. Probably a dozen or two of our feathered friends would have filled the bellies of the settlers and the Wampanoag people, which translates as People of the Dawn.

In retrospect, today’s Wampanoag people might not view this historic meal as a feast of thanks. Sixty years later their population had dropped by 60% after an epidemic, believed to be introduced by the Europeans, decimated the population. In some areas mortality was as high as 90%. In hindsight, the Wampanoag might regret having been so accommodating.

So, today it’s the family feast.

Luckily, we have Adele back again in 2021 to give us the soundtrack. Just like in 2015.

 

 

All the family gathers around, a logistics nightmare, as an estimated 55 million people take to the air, roads and rails.

And let the eating begin. Accounting for appetisers and desserts, the average American will consume over 3,000 calories. A normal dinner is between 600 – 1000 calories. It’s a pre-Christmas warm-up.

The next day is Black Friday. It’s peak consumerism. In 2005, Cyber Monday entered the shopping vocabulary and is now the biggest online shopping day of the year in the States.

Last year, Cyber Monday overtook Black Friday in total sales for the first time. Consumers spent about $9 billion on the Friday and another $10 billion on the Monday.

It’s a busy long weekend.

Who destroyed Mr. Bernstein’s piano?

(Level A2 and above: past simple and past continuous – with stories, exercises, vocabulary, and songs)

Written and compiled by Benedicte Gravrand, The Language House.

 

Mr. Bernstein is a brilliant pianist. Last night, while he was eating in a restaurant with his wife, somebody came into his house and destroyed his very expensive grand piano with a chainsaw (tronçonneuse). The piano was completely demolished, a total mess. The intruder did not take anything from the house. When Mr. Bernstein arrived home, he called the police in a panic.

Detective Bosch suspects the perpetrator has a grudge (rancune) against Mr. Bernstein. She is now interviewing three suspects. The first suspect is Vladimir, a young musician, the second is Mrs. Grant, a music agent, and the third is Mr. Wang, a concert pianist.

 

First interview:

 

Detective Bosch: Are you a professional piano player?

Vladimir: I was. At the moment, I’m learning to be a conductor at the music academy. (1) I worked a lot last year; I played in some concerts as well as with a band.

Detective Bosch: Why are you trying to change profession?

Vladimir: Er, I don’t want to play the piano any more. I have lost interest.

Detective Bosch: You were a student of Mr. Bernstein’s. When (2) did you take piano lessons with him?

Vladimir: I took lessons with him when I was little. That was years ago. I am quite capable now.

Detective Bosch: Did you keep in touch with Mr. Bernstein?

Vladimir: No, I didn’t.

Detective Bosch: What (4) were you doing yesterday between 8 pm and 11 pm?

Vladimir: (3) I was playing darts with some friends at the Red Lion pub. And I was drinking beer too. I went back home at 11:30.

 

*********

 

Past simple and past continuous

 

In this interview, Detective Bosch and Vladimir use the past simple and the past continuous to describe what happened in the past. These two tenses are great for story-telling.

  1. We use the past simple to talk about something that happened in the past and that is now finished. We normally use a time reference with the past simple, such as: last year, in 1990, this morning, when I was in the bath, as she was walking through the park, etc.

We put –ed (or -d or -ied) at the end of the verb, except of course with irregular verbs.

  1. When we ask a question in the past simple, we use the auxiliary “did”. The verb becomes infinitive: Did you see him yesterday?

Same thing for negative sentences: No, I did not (or didn’t) see him.

  1. We use the past continuous to talk about a past action that took place over a period of time, or a repeated / habitual action in the past. It is often used in reference to another event: She was playing the piano when her mother arrived.
  2. In the past continuous, the auxiliaries are “was” and “were” – that is, the verb “to be” conjugated in the past. The verb is always in the –ing form (present participle).

Example: Were you watching a film last night?

No, I was not (or wasn’t), I was playing the piano.

 

*********

All words in bold are in the vocabulary exercise below.

 

Exercise I

Complete the second interview with the verbs in brackets in the correct tense; either past simple or past continuous. Note: there are a few irregular verbs.

 

Second interview:

 

Detective Bosch: Are you Mr. Bernstein’s music agent?

Mrs. Grant: I was. He …….. (fire) me last year.

Detective Bosch: Why ……. he …….. (do) that?

Mrs. Grant: We had a disagreement about the bookings. He ……… (complain) several times that he …….. (do) too many shows abroad. That’s not my fault if he is more popular in Europe than here! Anyway, he …….. (terminate) our contract and I have not seen him since.

Detective Bosch: But you ……… (call) him a lot in the last three months, didn’t you?

Mrs. Grant: Yes, I ……… (try) to start a new contract. I …….. (have) some ideas, new contacts.

Detective Bosch: Apparently, you …….. (lose) all your other clients last year. They all ……… (leave) after Mr. Bernstein ……… (terminate) the contract. Do you feel it is all his fault?

Mrs. Grant: Not at all. It’s just that …….. I …….. (go) through a difficult period in my business.

Detective Bosch: What …….. you …….. (do) last night between 8 pm and 11 pm?

Mrs. Grant: I …….. (watch) television at home.

Detective Bosch: What …….. you ……… (watch)?

Mrs. Grant: Er, a cooking show. I …….. (cook) at the same time. Then I …….. (go) to bed at 10.

 

Check your answers:

 

Detective Bosch: Are you Mr. Bernstein’s music agent?

Mrs. Grant: I was. He fired me last year.

Detective Bosch: Why did he do that?

Mrs. Grant: We had a disagreement about the bookings. He complained several times that he was doing too many shows abroad. That’s not my fault if he is more popular in Europe than here! Anyway, he terminated our contract and I have not seen him since.

Detective Bosch: But you called him a lot in the last three months, didn’t you?

Mrs. Grant: Yes, I was trying to start a new contract. I had some ideas, new contacts.

Detective Bosch: Apparently, you lost all your other clients last year. They all left after Mr. Bernstein terminated the contract. Do you feel it is all his fault?

Mrs. Grant: Not at all. It’s just that… I was going through a difficult period in my business.

Detective Bosch: What were you doing last night between 8 pm and 11 pm?

Mrs. Grant: I was watching television at home.

Detective Bosch: What were you watching?

Mrs. Grant: Er, a cooking show. I was cooking at the same time. Then I went to bed at 10.

 

 

Exercise II

This one is a bit more difficult. Complete the dialogue with a verb in the list using either the past simple or the past continuous.

Some of the verbs are irregular.

 

Prepare       Be (x3)        Do     Threaten      Send      Tell      Have      Not do      Feel     Work

 

Third interview:

 

Detective Bosch: Are you a concert pianist?

Mr. Wang: Yes, I am.

Detective Bosch: Is it true you ……. a very public fight with Mr. Bernstein six months ago?

Mr. Wang: Well, yes, he …….. the press that I …….. not good enough for classical music. And that I should play Elton John music instead.

Detective Bosch: …….. you ……… him threatening messages after that?

Mr. Wang: Yes, but it is because I ……… very angry. That was done in the heat of the moment.

Detective Bosch: I see here that you ……… to destroy his piano.

Mr. Wang: I ……… it! I would never do anything violent. I ……… very angry.

Detective Bosch: What ……… you ………. last night between 8 pm and 11 pm?

Mr. Wang: I ………. for my next concerto. I ………. very hard.

 

Check your answers:

 

Detective Bosch: Are you a concert pianist?

Mr. Wang: Yes, I am.

Detective Bosch: Is it true you had a very public fight with Mr. Bernstein six months ago?

Mr. Wang: Well, yes, he told the press that I was not good enough for classical music. And that I should play Elton John music instead.

Detective Bosch: Did you send him threatening messages after that?

Mr. Wang: Yes, but it is because I was very angry. That was done in the heat of the moment.

Detective Bosch: I see here that you threatened to kill his piano.

Mr. Wang: I didn’t do it! I would never do anything violent. I was feeling very angry.

Detective Bosch: What were you doing last night between 8 pm and 11 pm?

Mr. Wang: I was preparing for my next concerto. I was working very hard.

 

Conclusion

Who killed Mr. Bernstein’s piano? Vladimir suddenly lost interest in playing piano. He probably found he wasn’t such a good pianist, and so he took it out on his teacher. But he has a good alibi. Mrs. Grant has many reasons for resenting Mr. Bernstein. She possibly thinks that losing her clients is all Mr. Bernstein’s fault. And her alibi is weak. As for Mr. Wang, he was very angry at Mr. Bernstein who tried to destroy his reputation. His alibi is not very strong either.  What do you think? Who did it?

 

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Marc Cohn – Walking in Memphis (with lyrics)

 

Check the vocabulary

 

Match the 16 words from the texts with their definition.

 

  1. To lose interest
  2. Proficient
  3. To keep in touch
  4. Dart (n.)
  5. Mess (n.)
  6. Intruder

 

a. To maintain contact with someone

b. very skilful at something that you have learned

c. someone who enters a place where they are not allowed to go especially to commit a crime

d. a situation in which a place is dirty or untidy

e. To not be interested in something anymore, to grow bored with something

f. a small pointed object that you throw at a round board in order to score points in the game of darts

 

Answer key:

1:e – 2:b – 3:a – 4:f – 5:d – 6:c

 

  1. To perpetrate (noun: perpetrator)
  2. To fire
  3. Booking
  4. Abroad
  5. Show (n.)
  6. To threaten

 

g. (in this context) an arrangement made by a performer to perform at a particular place and time in the future

h. to do something that is harmful, illegal, or dishonest

i. a performance, a programme, an exhibition, an event

j. to tell someone that you might or you will cause them harm, especially in order to make them do something

k. (in this context) to make someone leave their job, sometimes as a punishment

l. in or to a foreign country

 

Answer key:

7:g – 8:k – 9:g – 10:l – 11:i – 12:j

 

13. In the heat of the moment (idiom)

14. To steal

15. To take it out on (someone) (idiom)

16. To resent

 

m. To take something that belongs to someone else without permission

n. (informal) to make (another) suffer for one’s own anger, irritation, bad temper, etc. (Just because you’re angry with him you don’t have to take it out on me!)

o. without stopping to think about what you are doing or saying, because you are angry or excited

p. to experience angry unhappy feelings because you think you have been treated unfairly or without enough respect (The girls in the family resented all the attention that Peter was getting.)

 

Answer key:

13:o –  14:m – 15:n – 16:p

 

Sources: macmillandictionary.com; collinsdictionary.com; idioms.thefreedictionary.com

 

Elton John – Rocket Man Live (The Million Dollar Piano)

 

You are reading blog number 100!

(Scroll down and read the English version of this article below)

 

Chers lecteurs et chers abonnés,

On se sent fier aujourd’hui. Vachement content même. Cet article que vous êtes en train de lire est le 100ème à être publié sur notre blog Et Maintenant in English.

C’est une étape importante. Des centaines d’heures d’écriture. Sans parler de toutes ces réflexions au lit à 3h47 du matin. Comme tout écrivain le sait, donner naissance au plus simple des mots en public demande beaucoup de courage, de temps, et cela peut être un peu stressant.

Cela nous a pris un peu plus de trois ans. Ce qui revient à presque trois blogs par mois. Nous avons commencé en septembre 2018 avec un article sur l’expression anglaise populaire, I look forward to hearing from you utilisé en anglais parlé et écrit.

La bonne nouvelle est que nous avons eu de vos nouvelles. Nous comptons désormais 222 abonnés, qui reçoivent automatiquement nos blogs par email à chaque publication. Nous n’avons aucune idée de qui vous êtes, mais nous sommes absolument ravis que vous soyez avec nous. Et nous voulons vraiment dire merci.

N’hésitez pas à les rejoindre. Écrivez simplement votre adresse e-mail sur la case Abonnez-vous sous les photos de ces deux belles personnes sur le côté droit de cette page (oui, c’est nous – vos scribes fidèles). Et répondez à l’e-mail de confirmation.

Nous nous sommes fixé deux objectifs au départ :

Encourager et aider les personnes qui voulaient développer leurs compétences en anglais comme deuxième ou troisième langue, et démystifier certaines des choses qui se passent dans le monde anglophone.

À quelques reprises, nous nous sommes simplement inspirés de l’histoire, comme The history of witches in Switzerland et King Louis XIV’s bottom and how it changed the face or surgery (qui a trouvé sa place sur la liste de lecture académique de certains collèges de chirurgie au Royaume-Uni et aux États-Unis), et par nos héros tels que Nick Cave, Agatha Christie, David Bowie et Doctor Who.

 

 

Yes, we wrote about Louis XIV’s bottom and David Bowie.

Nos 100 conversations commencent leur vie ici au sein du journal suisse Le Temps. Après cela, les canons monstrueux de Monsieur Google prennent le relais, ou dans la plupart des cas, pas. Nous avons eu quelques modestes blogs tromblons.

Notre article le plus populaire intitulé Ms, Mrs or Miss? concerne les titres pour les femmes, en particulier le titre Ms (Mizz).

Nos recherches d’amateurs nous indiquent qu’il est populaire au Japon avec plus de 23 000 vues au total. Le titre et les rôles de genre sont actuellement passés au premier plan culturel, mais aujourd’hui encore, la plupart des non-anglophones ont peu de compréhension du titre par défaut pour les femmes Ms, qui est courant depuis les années 90. Des temps compliqués nous attendent.

Winston Churchill demeure la personnalité britannique la plus populaire, dans et en dehors de l’Angleterre. Cet orateur acclamé avec un terrible problème d’élocution a déclaré : « Un mensonge fait l’autre bout du monde avant que la vérité n’ait une chance de se mettre en place. »

Aujourd’hui, des mensonges (fake news) parcourent le monde en première classe Meta et se répètent tellement de fois que la vérité sautille à moitié nue sur un sol en linoléum froid avec une seule jambe dans son pantalon.

Nous avons apprécié perversement le menteur en chef Donald Trump. Nous avons décidé que la meilleure façon de démystifier l’ancien président américain était la satire.

Il a été trop généreux avec nous, comme la fois où il a dit à la nation américaine que l’injection de détergent dans votre bras pourrait nettoyer le Covid. Nous nous sommes associés à Monsieur Propre pour cette pièce : I followed the president’s advice and injected detergent into my arm.

 

You should not always do what your president suggests.

Et quand le Groenland s’est moqué de l’offre de Trump d’acheter leur pays, nous avons imaginé qu’il pourrait aimer un petit domaine alpin connu sous le nom de la Suisse : Donald trump says he now wants to buy Switzerland.

La pandémie nous a fait réfléchir. Nous sommes assez fiers de notre série sur la pandémie qui comprenait un article bien lu sur stoïcisme et l’histoire fascinante de The Swiss bacteriologist who unmasked the Black Death.

La statistique la plus prometteuse que nous avons réussi à dégager de l’analyse de notre blog concerne peut-être le temps moyen que les gens passent à lire les blogs publiés sur ce site Web. La moyenne globale avant la pandémie était d’environ quatre minutes. Mais sur notre blog, cela a doublé à huit minutes. C’est probablement en raison du fait que notre blog est en anglais et de nombreux articles sur les idiomes, les verbes à particule, l’anglais social, les excuses, les prépositions, les conditionnels, donner son avis, prédire, les expressions sur le temps, incluent des exercices, des clips de musique et parfois des vidéos. Oui, nous vous avons fait travailler.

Donc, si vous avez huit minutes de libre, vous pouvez trouver une liste complète de nos articles ici.

Nous continuerons à écrire. Nous vous informerons lorsque nous atteindrons le 200ème.

Votre travail est de continuer à lire.

Bien à vous,

Garry Littman et Benedicte Gravrand

(Formations d’anglais à Genève et les séjours linguistiques)

Traduit en français par Bénédicte Gravrand

Et maintenant in English:

 

Dear readers and dear subscribers,

We are feeling a little pleased with ourselves today. Chuffed, you might say. This article you are now reading is the 100th to be published on our blog – Et Maintenant in English.

It’s quite a milestone. Hundreds of hours of writing. Not to mention all that pondering, reflecting, and tossing and turning in bed at 3:47 am. As any writer out there knows, giving public birth to even the simplest array of words takes a fair bit of courage, time and can be a little stressful.

It’s taken us just over three years. So that’s almost three blogs a month. We began in September 2018 with an article about the popular English expression I look forward to hearing from you used in both spoken and written English.

The good news is that we did hear from you. We now have 222 subscribers, who automatically receive our blogs by email each time we publish. We have no idea who most of you are, but we are absolutely delighted you are with us. Thank you. And we really mean thank you.

Feel free to join them. Just write your email address on the abonnez-vous box under the photos of those two handsome people on the right side of this page (Yes, that’s us – your trusted scribes).

We set ourselves two aims when we started:

To encourage and help people who wanted to develop their skills in English as a second or third language and to demystify some of the goings-on in the English-speaking world. A few times we just got inspired by history, such as The history of witches in Switzerland and King Louis XIV’s bottom and how it changed the face or surgery (which found its ways onto the academic reading list of some surgery colleges in the UK and the USA), and by our heroes such as Nick Cave, Agatha Christie, David Bowie and Doctor Who.

 

We wrote about the terrible witch hunts in Switzerland.

Our 100 conversations begin their lives here in the Le Temps circle. From here the monstrous cannons of Monsieur Google take over, or in most cases not. We did have a few modest blunderbuss blogs.

Our most popular article titled Ms, Mrs or Miss? is about titles for women, especially the title Ms (Mizz).

Our amateur research tells us it is popular in Japan with over 23,000 views in total. Title and gender roles have today moved into the cultural foreground, but still today most non-English speakers have little understanding of the default title for women Ms which has been in the mainstream since the 90s. Complicated times lie ahead.

Winston Churchill remains the most popular British figure, inside and outside of England. This acclaimed orator with a terrible speech impediment famously said: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

Today, lies or fake news, travel the world in Meta first-class. They are repeated so many times that truth is left hopping around half-naked on a cold linoleum floor with just one leg in her pants.

We did perversely enjoy the liar-in-chief Donald Trump. We decided the best way to demystify the former US president was through satire.

He was overly generous with us, such as the time he told the US nation that injecting detergent into your arm might clean out Covid. We teamed up with Monsieur Propre for this piece: I followed the president’s advice and injected detergent into my arm.

And when Greenland laughed off Trump’s offer to buy the country, we imagined he might like a little Alpine estate known as Switzerland: Donald trump says he now wants to buy Switzerland.

The pandemic gave us pause to think. We are quite proud of our pandemic series which included a well-read article about Stoicism and the fascinating story of Alexandre Yersin: The Swiss bacteriologist who unmasked the Black Death.

 

 

Perhaps the most promising statistic we managed to gleam from analysis of our blog concerned the average time people spent reading blogs published on this website. The overall pre-Covid average was about four minutes. But on our blog, this doubled to eight minutes probably. This is probabliy due to that fact that it is in English and many articles about idioms, phrasal verbs, social English, apologising, prepositions, conditionals, giving your opinion, predicting, expressions about time, included exercises, video and sometimes music video clips. Yes, we made you work.

So, if you have a spare eight minutes you can find a complete list here of our blogs.

We’ll keep writing. We will let you know when we reach 200.

Your job is to keep reading.

Kind regards

Garry and Benedicte

The Language House, Geneva

(Formations d’anglais à Genève et les séjours linguistiques)

 

 

Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights (phrasal verbs – part one)

(Level A2 and above: 12 common phrasal verbs – with stories, exercises, and songs)

Written and compiled by Benedicte Gravrand, The Language House.

Honeymoon Story

When they found out they had to fill in all these forms, Jill and Peter gave up on the idea that they should get married. After all, they just wanted to look after each other, put on some weight and be happy together for the rest of their lives. They were not looking for an official contract to confirm their love. They decided, however, to still go away and have their honeymoon (voyage de noce) in the Canary Islands, which they had organised a long time ago. Before setting off, they invited a lot of people for a honeymoon party. They closed down their flower shop, turned up the music, took off their shoes, and danced all night. Two days later, they flew to the Canaries, not knowing the volcano in La Palma was about to go off

12 phrasal verbs

There are 12 phrasal verbs in this story. There are thousands of phrasal verbs (verbes à particule) in the English language. Many phrasal verbs have several meanings. They are very commonly used, especially in more informal contexts.

You probably already know many phrasal verbs such as; sit down, stand up, wake up, get up, and call back.

What is a phrasal verb?

A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and a particle.

It can be:

  1. a verb and an adverb, such as break down (The car broke down just outside Winchester)
  2. a verb and a preposition, such as see to (You try to get some sleep, I’ll see to the children’s breakfast)
  3. a verb and both, such as look down on (She looks down on anyone who hasn’t had a university education)

Here are the 12 phrasal verbs from the Honeymoon Story (above):

  1. Go off
  • to explode or to stop working (All the lights in the building suddenly went off)
  • to leave a place (Dave’s gone off to the south of France for the summer)
  • to start making a noise (I was just lying in bed waiting for the alarm to go off)
  1. Set off
  • to start a journey (We set off early the next morning)
  • to cause something to operate (Jeff pushed open the front door, which set off the alarm)
  • to cause a situation to happen (He fears that the election could set off mass protests)
  1. Give up
  • to stop doing something that you do regularly (He finally gave up smoking)
  • to stop thinking or believing something (It was a difficult time, but we never gave up hope)
  1. Close down
  • same as close (Their intention is to close down the factory)
  1. Turn up
  • to increase the amount of sound, heat, or light by pressing a button or moving a switch (Don’t turn the TV up – I’m trying to read)
  • to come somewhere, especially unexpectedly (There is no need to book – just turn up on the night)
  • to be found after being lost (The documents finally turned up in an office along the corridor)
  1. Go away
  • to move or travel away from a person or place (If he’s bothering you, tell him to go away)
  • to leave your home for a period of time, especially for a holiday (We’ve decided to go away for a long weekend)
  • verb and particle are never separated
  1. Look for
  • to hope to get something that you want or need (He was looking for work as a builder)
  • to search for someone or something (I’m looking for Jim. Have you seen him?)
  • verb and particle are never separated.
  1. Fill in
  • to add information such as your name or address in the empty spaces on an official document (I spent over two hours filling in the application form)
  • to give someone details about something (Did Sam fill you in about the new project?)
  • to do someone’s job for them while they are away (I’m filling in for the receptionist at the moment)
  1. Find out
  • to discover a fact or piece of information (Her parents found out that she had a boyfriend)
  1. Put on
  • to start wearing something (Peter put on his coat and went out / Melanie was putting on her makeup in front of the mirror)
  • to make a machine or piece of equipment start working, especially by pressing a switch (Can you put the light on, please?)
  • to become fatter (She put a lot of weight on after the children were born)
  1. Take off
  • To remove clothing (I’d better take my shoes off)
  • if an aircraft takes off, it leaves the ground and starts flying (The plane should take off on time)
  • to become successful or popular very fast (Her business has really taken off)
  • to have a particular amount of time away from work (I’m taking Monday off to go to London)
  1. Look after
  • to take care of someone or something (It’s hard work looking after three children all day)
  • to be responsible for something (an organization that looks after the interests of artists)

 

Source: www.macmillandictionary.com

 

Bob Marley – Get up stand up (with lyrics)

 

Gloria Estefan – Go Away

 

 

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Your turn!

Exercise 1

Put in the missing particle in the text. Choose from the list.

off (x3)             in         out       up        away    on        up        after

 

The really anxious guide to home safety

If you want to go …… for your summer holiday, check a few things before you set …… : turn off the gas as you don’t want everything your own to go …… and destroy your house (and your street); have someone fill …..  for you at work while you take time ….. if you don’t want your company to go bankrupt (faire faillite) and close down; look … ..someone to look ….. your plants if you don’t want them to give up the ghost (die); find ….. if you can put ….. a reliable alarm system if you don’t want a visit from the burglars (cambrioleurs) – or just hide your jewellery in a hole under the house; and ask a friend to turn ….. at your house at unexpected times to ensure no one is having a big party or squatting there. I know, this is hard work. But what do you prefer? Home safety or a relaxing holiday?

Answer key:

If you want to go away for your summer holiday, check a few things before you set off: turn off the gas as you don’t want everything you own to go off and destroy your house (and your street); have someone fill in for you at work while you take time off if you don’t want your company to go bankrupt and close down; look for someone to look after your plants if you don’t want them to give up the ghost (die); find out if you can put on a reliable alarm system if you don’t want a visit from the burglars (cambrioleurs) – or just hide your jewellery in a hole under the house; and ask a friend to turn up at your house at unexpected times to ensure no one is having a big party or squatting there. I know, this is hard work. But what would you rather have? Home safety or a relaxing holiday?

 

Exercise 2

(B1+)

This is a more difficult exercise.

Put in the missing phrasal verbs in the gaps. Choose from the list.

Note: sometimes you will have to conjugate the phrasal verb in the past simple.

 

Go off              put on              look for            close down      wake up           take off

Fill in                set off              go away           find out            look after        turn up

Give up

 

Little did I know …

My alarm ….. at 6 a.m. this morning and I ….. for work at 7. Little did I know (je ne savais pas) about my incredible day then.

I arrived at work only to ….. my company had ….. overnight. I checked my phone and saw an email from my company, saying they had serious financial difficulties. I was totally confused and really angry. But I did not ….. hope.  I went to the newsagent and ….. a lottery ticket, thinking, “what’s the worst that could happen?” I went home, ….. my work clothes and ….. my sports clothes because I wanted to ….. for the day and spend it at the gym. I thought: “I am going to ….. my health. That way, I will stay busy and positive. I will look for a new job later. I’m sure it won’t be a problem, now that I have decided to be optimistic.”

In the evening, I ….. my lottery ticket everywhere. I  just could not find it. I didn’t feel very optimistic then, thinking this was just an all-around horrible day. Then, the lottery ticket ….. in the pocket of my work jacket. I immediately checked the results of the lottery and found I had won the jackpot! Little did I know about my incredible day when I ….. that morning.

 

Answer key:

My alarm went off at 6 a.m. this morning and I set off for work at 7. Little did I know about my incredible day then.

I arrived at work only to find out my company had closed down overnight. I checked my phone and saw an email from my company, saying they had to suffered too many financial difficulties. I was totally confused and really angry. But I did not give up hope.  I went to the newsagent and filled in a lottery ticket, thinking, “what’s the worst that could happen?” I went home, took off my work clothes and put on my sports clothes because I wanted to go away for the day and spend it at the gym. I thought: “I am going to look after my health. That way, I will stay busy and positive. I will look for a new job later. I’m sure it won’t be a problem, now that I have decided to be optimistic.”

In the evening, I looked for my lottery ticket everywhere. I  just could not find it. I didn’t feel very optimistic then, thinking this was just an all-around horrible day. Then, the lottery ticket turned up in the pocket of my work jacket. I immediately checked the results of the lottery and found I had won the jackpot! Little did I know about my incredible day when I woke up that morning.

 

Jason Mraz – Look For The Good (with lyrics)

 

Note:

With some phrasal verbs, you can separate the verb and the particle:

They’ve called the meeting off (to call of= to cancel)

Or

They’ve called off the meeting.

 

And with other phrasal verbs, you never separate the verb and the particle:

Look for your keys. Not: Look your keys for.

_________________________________________________

A fish out of water

Level A2 and above

There are lots of expressions in English that involve fish (poisson). They are informal expressions.

But they can be used to make your conversations more colorful and interesting.

 

Like a fish out of water

This expression or metaphor is self-explanatory. Fish are comfortable or “at home” in water, not like humans.

When a fish is “out of water” is cannot survive for very long. This expression means to be uncomfortable (out of your comfort zone) and not knowing what to do or say.

When they all started talking about their bonuses, I felt like a fish out of water. I had never received a bonus in my life.

 At the concert I felt like a fish out of water. Everyone around me was the age of my daughter.

I come from a small village in the Swiss alps. When go to the city, I sometimes feel like a fish out of water

The expression can be traced back to Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. He wrote:

…a monk, when he is cloisterless;
Is like to a fish that is waterless

 

Here’s a fish out of water – BBC David Attenborough:

 

A big fish in a small pond

A person who is important and powerful in a small group of people is a big fish in a small pond.

We often talk about the transition from primary school to high school. In the last year of primary school, pupils are big fish in a small pond. At high school they will be small fish in a bog pond.

She was a big fish in small pond in the small company. That all changed when she joined an international company. Then she was a small fish in a big pond.

 

That smells fishy

Fish have a strong smell. After a few days, it’s a not a very nice smell.

If something smells fishy, there is something strange, suspect or suspicious. Maybe it’s illegal or criminal.

It took some time before people realised there was something very fishy about the investor Madoff.

Read more about Madoff here

The manager smelled something fishy and started an investigation. He discovered that three of the four employees were stealing from the store.

We think the business deal is fishy. We have decided to not go ahead with it.

 

To fish for a compliment

The verb to fish is the activity of fishing and involves using a hook and line to catch fish.

When you fish for a compliment, you try to catch a compliment. You try to get someone to say something nice about you.

When I do a good job, I like to receive positive feedback. My boss never says anything, I always have to fish for compliments.

My boyfriend said nothing about my new haircut. I think he is blind. I always have to fish for a compliment.

 

There’s plenty more fish in the sea

This expression is often used to console or comfort someone, especially at the end of a romantic relationship that has failed or ended badly.

It means that there are other suitable choices and opportunities to be found.

I know you are sad about John leaving you, but there are plenty more fish in the sea.

I really wanted that job. I am so disappointed. I suppose there are plenty more fish in the sea. I must stay positive.

 

Language note:

The word fish is often used for both singular and plural. The word fishes can also be used in the plural form.

At an aquarium: Look at all the colorful fishes or fish.

However, the meat of fish is always unaccountable.

In a restaurant: I think I’ll have the fish.

Humanity… we’ve got your tests back. Not looking so good, I’m afraid.

The Cosmic Medical Centre was busy, but Humanity had to wait just five minutes before the nurse called them.

“Humanity? Earth, isn’t it? This way please.”

The nurse opened the door and there, behind a solid oak desk, the cosmic doctor looked up, peering through his bi-focals.

“Aaah, yes, we’ve been expecting you Humanity. Please sit down. We’ve got all your tests back. Not looking so good, I’m afraid. Sit, sit please…

“Hypertension, anxiety, stress and depression. Middle age and its aches and pains have come quickly to you Humans. Faster than most species.  Millions of years faster. The dinosaurs make your look like amateurs. By the way, your fertility has dropped considerably, probably a result of the above. This current pandemic probably doesn’t help.

“A change of lifestyle would be good, but unfortunately as you know,” he paused, and looked up at the patient, “it’s rather difficult to change your genetic predisposition.”

You have such an odd sense of superiority

 

“Impossible, actually,” the doctor smiled, paused and then continued, “…despite your fantastical efforts. You are blessed and cursed. You are conscious, unlike most of your fellow life forms. But still, more than a touch conceited to imagine that you can shape your own future. You are just current in the drift of genes, just like all the other life forms that come here. You have such an odd sense of superiority. You come in here calling yourself Humanity. Do you think the frogs and the cows have a collective belief that they can take charge of their destiny? There is no such thing as Humanity, nor is there Frogity or Cowity. Just another of your many misguided myths.

 

Do you really think the lottery you call Progress and Science can free you from the life of an animal?

 

“You know you were once animists who shared a common destiny with the other animals and now you think you are in charge, of not only your own destiny, but also that of the Earth. I mean, really, do you think the lottery you call Progress and Science can free you from the life of an animal?”

The doctor raised his hand. “No, I don’t want to hear anything from you. Not yet.”

“You know, we had Earth in last week for a complete examination. There was long list of ailments; excessive gas, heat rashes, breathing difficulties, hot and cold flushes, dry surfaces, artery poisoning and loss of surface vegetation.

“We traced all these disorders back to one cause: you. Yes, you.”

Humanity shifted uneasily in its chair. The doctor raised his hand again.

 

You have infected your host. You have become a pathogenic organism like the cells of a tumour. Or a virus, if you like.

 

“No, it’s my turn to speak. You have infected your host. You have become, for want of a better term, a pathogenic organism like the cells of a tumour. Or a virus, if you like.

“Look here’s the report here: Read the first line. Read it for yourself.”

The doctor thrust the paper in front of Humanity’s eyes. Humanity began to read: “The Earth (solar system B-1873HGFY74) is suffering from a plague of humans.

“Yes, a plague, that’s right,” the doctor said.

“Your population is now around 7.8 billion. It has doubled in less than 50 years. Honestly, it’s not the numbers that are the problems. It’s your predatory and destructive abilities.

“We’ve already got a name for the next geological period – the Eremozoic – the era of solitude when little remains on the earth. Basically, you’ve killed it all. It’s sad, but understandable that you’re all getting rather obsessed with space.

We call it a correction. You might call it Armageddon.

 

“But before that new epoch rolls in, you are most likely going to suffer considerably. We call it a correction. You might call it Armageddon.

“Population spikes don’t rise forever. You just have to look at mice and rabbits. The collapse, when it comes, will occur over a relatively short period of time, but will see your population fall to one or two billion at the most.

“You know you cannot destroy the Earth, but you can easily wreck the environment that sustains you and other life forms.”

Humanity slumped in its chair, then raised its head: “How long have we”…

 

It’s not always about you

 

The doctor cut Humanity off with a deep sigh and hand in the air. “You haven’t been listening, have you? It’s not always about you.”

A silence.

“What can we do then?”

“Not much really,” the doctor replied.

“Perhaps give up the idea that progress will somehow preserve your oblivion. Being idle is not a sin. Try doing nothing sometimes. Stop pining for meaning in life. And stop pining for immortality. Sanity is in the stillness. It’s just life.”

 

—–

 

Many of the ideas expressed in the above article come from the book, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and other Animals, by John Gray. He is an English political philosopher and author with interests in analytic philosophy and the history of ideas. He retired in 2008 as School Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

His books include:

False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism (1998)

Al Qaeda and What it Means to be Modern (2003)

Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia (2007)

The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths (2013)

Put some sugar in your English

(Level A2 and above: Idioms and phrases related to sugar and honey – with songs)

Written and compiled by Benedicte Gravrand, The Language House.

 

Sprinkling (saupoudrer) some sugar on your English is a piece of cake. It can put the icing (glaçage) on the cake. And it’s as easy as pie. For example, you can call your loved ones “honey” or “sweetie” or “sugar”. You can say “isn’t it/he/she sweet?” or, “it was so sweet of you to do that” (sweet: sucré, doux, adorable).

After all, you can catch more flies (mouches) with honey than vinegar.

Do it in your own sweet time. Do it when you want to say something serious: as the proverb says, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine (médicament) go down. But be careful, too much sugar will make you as nutty as a fruitcake. You’ll start believing you are Mary Poppins. And if you do too much sweet talking, people will start to take what you say with a pinch (pincée) of salt. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. That’s a recipe (recette) for disaster.

 

George Harrison: My Sweet Lord

 

 

 

Phrases

  1. A piece of cake – too easy.

The interview was a piece of cake.

  1. The icing on the cake / the frosting on the cake – If something is the icing on the cake, or the frosting on the cake, it makes a good situation or a good result even better.

I’m really happy playing here, and if we win today, that will be the icing on the cake.

  1. Easy as pie – very easy.

Michael understood at once. `Why, that’s easy as pie,’ he said as the rest of us scratched our heads.

  1. “Honey” – pet name. A pet name is an informal friendly name for a friend or member of your family.

Hi, honey, I’m home!

Have you seen the film “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”?

  1. “My sweet” – you can address someone as “sweetie” or “my sweet” if you are very fond of them.

Pass the sugar, sweetie.

Do you know the song “Sweet Home Alabama”?

  1. You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar – you are more likely to get the results you want from other people if you treat them with kindness or flattery, rather than being aggressive, demanding.

I think the kids would visit you more if you were nicer to them. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, you know.

  1. In (one’s) own sweet time – At one’s own preferred pace, without consideration for how it will affect others.

He certainly took his own sweet time getting here.

  1. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down – something good makes something bad more tolerable.

I’m going to put on some fun music while I work on this boring project because a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

 

 

  1. As nutty as a fruitcake – Very strange or completely mad.

The man is a charmer – intense, funny, and nutty as a fruitcake.

  1. Sweet talk – to talk to someone in a very nice way in order to persuade them to do something.

He even tried to sweet-talk the policewoman who arrested him.

  1. Take with a grain of salt / take with a pinch of salt – If you take what someone says with a grain of salt, or with a pinch of salt, you have serious doubts about the truth or accuracy of what they say.

“Listen,” he said, “you must take what Bob says with a grain of salt.”

  1. You can’t have your cake and eat it (too) – it’s impossible to have something both ways, if those two ways conflict.

He wants to stay with his wife but still see his girlfriend – talk about having your cake and eating it!

  1. A recipe for disaster – Something is a recipe for disaster if it’s going to cause trouble or serious problems.

The new parking rule is a recipe for disaster.

 

Sources:

Englishclub.com; idioms.thefreedictionary.com; Collinsdictionary.com; Macmillandictionary.com

 

MORE idioms and expressions (B2+): Idioms are not a piece of cake

 

 

Zaska: In your own sweet time

 

 

 

 

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Can you walk a mile in my shoes?

(Level B2 and above: Reading about empathy – with quotes, phrases, vocabulary quiz, videos and songs)

Written and compiled by Benedicte Gravrand, The Language House.

 

Empathy is kind of a beautiful thing. When we are the recipient of empathy , it can be deeply engraved in our memory forever: our distress is acknowledged, without even an ounce of prejudice, judgement, self-interest, or pity. Empathy helps us back on our feet in record time. A problem shared is a problem halved, it is said. Empathy has the power of healing.

Empathy is quite beyond whether you deserve it or not; it is in neutral territory. It is about recognising another and thereby sharing her experience. And we all do it to a greater or lesser extent; it is part of our nature.

Mister Rogers, the creator and host of the U.S. preschool television series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”, which ran from 1968 to 2001, was a well-known empathetic (or empathic) figure. He said, “I think the best thing we can do is to let people know that each one of them is precious.”

 

Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers in the film: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

 

All words in bold are in the vocabulary quiz below 

What exactly is empathy?

Empathy is not to be confused with compassion and sympathy, which are often thought to involve more of a passive connection. Empathy generally involves a much more active attempt to understand another person.

Verywell Mind categorises empathy thus:

  • Affective empathy is the ability to respond to other people’s emotions appropriately.
  • Somatic empathy is the ability to feel what another person is feeling. People sometimes physically experience what another person is feeling.
  • Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand someone’s response to a situation.

Apparently, empathy can also be expressed through self-control: If you feel empathy towards your future self, you will exercise self-control and not eat that chocolate cake today.

By definition, empathy is the opposite of apathy. Apathy is defined as “a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.” Furthermore, narcissists are known to often show a lack of empathy or pretend to be empathetic.

Related post: Lessons in narcissism with the stable genius Donald

Animals, such as elephants and even rats, are capable of feeling empathy toward each other. And dogs are man’s best friend thanks partly to their power of empathy.

 

Ben E. King – Stand By Me (with lyrics)

 

A learning curve

Empathy comes with time. We may show a little of it in childhood, but we grow to understand others better as our life experience and our self-knowledge expand.

We may also feel more empathy towards those we know than towards those we don’t.

The Guardian tells the story of a woman from Adelaide Hills, Raye Colbez, who did not feel sorry when she heard about the death of asylum seekers  who drowned near Christmas Island, in the north of Australia, in 2010. When asylum seekers moved to a detention centre not far from her home, she railed against it. But when she travelled to Africa and Malaysia to meet people hoping to find refuge in another country, her perspective changed.

“My empathy goes towards the people who are incarcerated with no future,” she said. “It made me feel as though I at least owed them more … There’s always two sides to a story so I shouldn’t jump to conclusions, I shouldn’t hop on the bandwagon and discriminate.”

 

 

Can you teach empathy?

Following the shocking news from the Australian political scene in March 2021, disgraced MP Andrew Laming  was ordered into “empathy training” by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Related post: Sick and shameful culture in the highest office in the land

From this sprung many commentaries on empathy training. Is it really possible to teach empathy?

Katherine Teh, managing director of consultancy Futureye, has for 19 years helped corporations and governments anticipate and understand community sentiment. “You can absolutely teach people empathy,” she told smh.com.au. “I’m constantly learning skill sets in relation to it.” A lot of her courses are about how to listen properly, she added.

There is plenty of evidence that empathy can be taught in childhood, but it gets more complicated when it comes to adults, reports The Guardian. Some believe that there are some effective methods to teach adults to be more empathic, if it is taught as a skill – like teaching a new dance for example. But there is no guarantee such training methods work all the time, or in the long term.

The key is, you have to want to learn empathy – otherwise, the training efforts might go to waste. Employees who are forced by their boss to take an empathy training session may see it as punishment. This may result in a backlash.

But remembering a few key principles could help increase our empathy level, with practice: listen carefully, keep an open mind, no judgement, no prejudice, try to understand.

 

Watch this Ted video on empathy as a skill:

We are experiencing an empathy shortage but we can fix it together

 

A more empathetic world

What would a more empathetic world be like? On the micro level, those that have been dealt a bad hand might be better supported by their community. Violence, rape and even theft and mistreatment of animals would lessen.  On the macro level, well, one might imagine fewer wars and more diplomatic meetings; less self-interest among corporations and leaders; and a better management of the eco-system.

 

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Phrases related to empathy

  • To be in someone else’s shoes: to experience something from someone else’s point of view
  • From where I’m standing: from my point of view
  • Spare me a thought: think about me as well
  • I see where you’re coming from: I understand your situation
  • I feel for you: I understand your problem
  • If you have a problem, call me 24/7: call me anytime

 

Alanis Morissette – Empathy (with lyrics)

 

Quotes about empathy

  • When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you. Susan Sarandon, American actress
  • I’ve been fascinated by the idea that evil is the absence of empathy. John Connolly, Irish writer
  • Artificial intelligence is growing up fast, as are robots whose facial expressions can elicit empathy and make your mirror neurons quiver. Diane Ackerman, American poet
  • Negotiation is empathy. It’s almost trite to say that if you can’t put yourself in the seat of the other person you’re speaking with, you’re not going to do well. It’s not about being a bully, not about making offers people can’t refuse. Marc Randolph, American businessman
  • We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old – and that’s the criterion by which I’ll be selecting my judges. Barack Obama

Source

 

Vocabulary Quiz

Match those 17 words from the text with their definition:

  1. Disgrace
  2. Acknowledge
  3. Record time
  4. Rail (against)
  5. Incarcerate
  6. Owe

a. (in this context) If you say that you owe someone gratitude, respect, or loyalty, you mean that they deserve it from you.

b. to express strong anger about something

c. very quickly, or in the fastest time recorded

d. the loss of other people’s respect because of something bad that you have done

e. to accept or admit that something exists, is true, or is real

f. to put someone in prison

Answer key: 1:d – 2:e – 3:c – 4:b – 5:f – 6:a

 

  1. Hop (or jump or climb) on the bandwagon
  2. Genuine
  3. Backlash
  4. Be dealt a bad hand
  5. Lessen

g. a strong, negative, and often angry reaction to something that has happened, especially a political or social change

h. to join or give support to a party or movement that seems to be assured of success

i. to become smaller in amount, level, importance etc

j. real, rather than pretended or false

k. if you get ‘dealt a bad hand’ it means you find yourself in unfavourable circumstances due to something you can’t control.

Answer key: 7:h – 8:j – 9:g – 10:k – 11:i

 

  1. Evil
  2. Elicit
  3. Quiver
  4. Trite
  5. Bully
  6. set one back on one’s feet

 

m. to shake with short quick movements

n. very bad or cruel behaviour

o. a trite remark is not interesting or original because it is what people usually say in that situation

p. (in this context) someone who uses their influence or status to threaten or frighten someone else in order to get what they want

q. to make someone react in the way that you want

r. To restore one to a stable position after a downturn or misfortune.

Answer key: 12:n – 13:q – 14:m – 15:o – 16:p – 17:r

 

Source: MacmillianDictionary.com; CollinsDictionary.com; idioms.thefreedictionary.com

 

 

It’s about time – and other time-related phrases

(Level B2 and above: English phrases with the word “time” – with reading, exercise, video, songs, quotes quiz and vocabulary quiz)

 Written and compiled by Benedicte Gravrand, The Language House.

 

“Time” is one of the most-used words in the English language.

We talk about time all the time. You can lose time, find time, save time, spend time, make time, take time, give time, call time and run out of time. You can even kill time. Kill another human you will most likely do time or serve time.

Time flies, time stand stills, time is on your side and time waits for no one. You can be on time, in time, out of time, behind time, from another time and ahead of time.

So, take the time to read this blog about time and, in your own time, you will be able to talk about time, at all times.

It’s a timely subject. Timeless you might say. It’s big time. Oh, and by the way, you reading about time on the website of Le Temps.

 

 

So, what is time?

In everyday language, time is the quantity that you measure using a clock (what time is it?), an amount of time (a long time), a period in history (the Roman times) or in life (his time at university), an experience (a good time), a moment (at the time of writing), and more.

There are a great many phrases and expressions using the word “time”. Here are just a few:

 

30 expressions with the word “time”

 

  1. Time spent planning is time well spenta good use of someone’s time.
  2. Things seem bad now but if you give it time, they might get better –wait, be patient.
  3. Here they are, and about time too – it’s overdue.
  4. They’ll be working against time to get it finished – do something quickly to finish on time.
  5. As an artist, he was years ahead of his timemore modern than others.
  6. Deal with each question separately, one at a timeseparately.
  7. She was fun to be with at timessometimes.
  8. These styles were a bit before my timeexisted before I was born.
  9. I’m afraid we’re out of timeno more time available.
  10. By the time we arrived, the other guests were already there – something has already happened.
  11. He did time for robbery – he was in prison.
  12. I still think of him from time to timesometimes.
  13. These days, I have all the time in the worlda lot of time available.
  14. We’ll have that fixed in no timevery soon, very quickly.
  15. In your own time, start the engine and put the car into gear – when you are ready.
  16. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt – it will definitely happen.
  17. I started cleaning the windows, just to kill timedo something instead of waiting.
  18. After the way Dave talked about me during the meeting, I wouldn’t give him the time of dayrefuse to speak to someone.
  19. The train was on timenot late.
  20. Things will get better over timegradually.
  21. We played cards to pass the timedo something instead of getting bored.
  22. Well, there’s a first time for everythingsomething is very strange or surprising.
  23. We get time and a half for working on Sundays – 50% more than the usual money that you earn.
  24. Let’s do it now, time is of the essenceshould be done as soon as possible.
  25. The good thing is, time is on your sideyou have a lot of time to do something.
  26. OK everyone, time’s up. Please turn in your spelling tests – no more time available to continue.
  27. Let’s do it now, time waits for no onedo something soon while the time is available.
  28. Time will tell whether he made the right choice – you will know in the future if something is true or right.
  29. You will feel better with timegradually.
  30. Barbara wasted no time in spreading the gossip – to do something immediately.

 

Source: MacmillanDictionary.comm

 

Read more about time:  During, while, for and since

It’s time we had a talk about time: during, while, for and since…

 

Time is on my side: The Rolling Stones

 

Exercise

 Fill in the gaps (1-11) in the dialogue with the correct phrase (a-k) below.

a. wasted so much time     b. all the time in the world     c. time is of the essence

d. about time    e. against time    f. waits for no one    g. on our side   h. on time

i. out of time    j. in no time    k. by the time

 

Running out of time

 

A : Well it’s (1)…….! Where have you been ? We’re working (2)……. here.

B: Really? I thought that time was (3)……..

A: No, (4)……. here. We have to finish that job (5)……..

B: We’ll have it done (6)……., don’t worry.

A: (7)……. they arrive, we’ll be (8)……..

B: But they’re not coming back from holiday before tomorrow. We have (9)…….!

A: Haven’t you heard? They’re coming back tonight at 9 pm.

B: Oh no, I wish I hadn’t (10)……..

A: You should cut that window there, as planned. Time (11)……...

 

Answer Key:

1:d – 2:e – 3:g – 4:c – 5:h – 6:j – 7:k – 8:i – 9:b – 10:a – 11:f

 

A : Well it’s about time. Where have you been ? We’re working against time here.

B: Really? I thought that time was on our side.

A: No, time is of the essence. We have to finish that job on time.

B: We’ll have it done in no time, don’t worry.

A: By the time they arrive, we’ll be out of time.

B: But they’re not coming back from holiday before tomorrow. We have all the time in the world!

A: Haven’t you heard? They’re coming back tonight at 9 pm.

B: Oh no, I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time.

A: You should cut that window there, as planned. Time waits for no one.

 

All words in bold are in the vocabulary quiz below.

 

Time by Pink Floyd

 

Time, perception and science

(Reading: Level C1 and above)

The way we see it, time flows, it passes, it goes in one direction, forever. But time is very much about perception. When you’re waiting for a bus, time seems to slow down. When you are focusing on something you are passionate about, time seems to move quickly. When you are asleep and dreaming, time ceases to exist.

We may, at times, go through an existential crisis when we think that we are finite (limité), or ephemeral. But in the end, time is really all about how we spend it. It is a resource and we get to choose what to do with it. It is the most valuable thing we possess. In this sense, time is indeed “money”.

 

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at onceAlbert Einstein

 

Scientists have given us many theories on time because they think the simple explanation that time flows forward is not enough. To them, the “arrow (flèche) of time” is not built into the nature of reality.

According to Einstein, time is relative; time passes more slowly for an object moving faster than another object. So “now” does not mean anything. His theory of general relativity describes a world of curved spacetime where everything is continuous. Spacetime is a conceptual model combining the three dimensions of space with the fourth dimension of time.

Carlo Rovelli, theoretical physicist and author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, says that time is human perception. Why can we know only the past, and not the future, he told The Guardian. There is a lack of symmetry there: we have records (or we can make inferences) of the past but not of the future. The key is the one-directional flow. Take heat for example. An ice cube dropped into a hot cup of coffee cools the coffee. And the process is not reversible: it is a one-way street.

Time is also entropy – a lack of order or organization in a system. Milk spoils at room temperature but its entropy will slow down if you put it in the fridge for example.

Entropy increases over time. According to cosmologists, the Big Bang, which (probably) started time as we know it, started at low entropy. Entropy in the universe is now higher than at the time of the Big Bang because gravity pulls everything together. Ever-increasing entropy is life, and so the passage of time, says Sean Carroll, another theoretical physicist.

But entropy, heat, past and future are qualities that belong to our superficial observation of it.

“If I observe the microscopic state of things,” writes Rovelli, “then the difference between past and future vanishes … in the elementary grammar of things, there is no distinction between ‘cause’ and ‘effect’.”

The quantum theory describes nature in terms of atoms and subatomic particles. Theoretical physics tries to make the quantum theory and the theory of general relativity work together. One answer, according to Rovelli, is the loop theory, in which spacetime itself is understood to be granular (broken into separate items), a fine structure woven from loops.

 

 

In this video, Sean Carroll explains time:

The Passage of Time and the Meaning of Life

What is time? What is humankind’s role in the universe? For much of human history, these questions have been the province of religion and philosophy. What answers can science provide?

 

 

 

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Quiz: Quotes about time

 

As Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev said, “Time sometimes flies like a bird, sometimes crawls like a snail; but a man is happiest when he does not even notice whether it passes swiftly or slowly.”

Match these quotes with their author:

  1. You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all  the people all the time.
  2. Time moves in one direction, memory in another.
  3. Tough times never last but tough people do.
  4. It is strange that the years teach us patience; that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.
  5. Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.
  6. Lost time is never found again.
  7. If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.

 

  1. Elizabeth Taylor, American actress
  2. Robert H. Schuller, American Christian televangelist
  3. Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States
  4. Abraham Lincoln, 19th U.S. president
  5. Bruce Lee, Chinese American martial artist
  6. William Gibson, American-Canadian speculative fiction writer
  7. William Penn, 17th/18th English writer and religious thinker

 

Answer Key:

1:d – 2:f – 3:b – 4:a – 5:g – 6:c – 7:e

 

Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time (with lyrics)

 

 

Take the vocabulary time quiz

Match each word with its respective definition.

  1. Flow
  2. Pass
  3. Perception
  4. Seem
  5. Cease
  6. Crawl
  7. Swiftly

 

a. to appear to be something, or to appear to have a particular quality

b. a particular way of understanding or thinking about something

c. to move forward very slowly

d. to move continuously in one direction

e. quickly or immediately

f. if time or a period of time passes, it happens and comes to an end

g. to stop happening or continuing

 

Answer Key

1:d – 2:f – 3:b – 4:a – 5:g – 6:c – 7:e

 

  1. Resource
  2. Heist
  3. At once
  4. Relative
  5. Weave
  6. Loop
  7. Key

 

a. having a particular quality when compared with something else

b. to make clothes or other material by weaving cloth

c. the thing that will do most to help you to achieve something (in this context)

d. an organized attempt by thieves to steal something

e. At the same time (in this context)

f. something that you can use to help you to achieve something, especially in your work or study

g. a round shape or curve made by a line curling back towards itself

 

Answer Key

8:f – 9:d – 10:e – 11:a – 12:b – 13:g – 14:c

 

  1. Reversible
  2. Vanish
  3. Province
  4. Fool
  5. Tough
  6. Effect

 

a. a change that is produced in one person or thing by another

b. to disappear in a sudden and mysterious way

c. to trick someone by making them believe something that is not true

d. a subject that someone knows about or is responsible for (in this context)

e. able to return or be changed to a previous state

f. strong and able to deal with difficult situations or pain

 

Answer Key

15:e – 16:b – 17:d – 18:c – 19:f – 20:a

 

Source: MacMillanDictionary.com