Archive for the ‘Expressions’ Category

Words and Their Stories: Get Off My Back!

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Now, the VOA Special English program WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.

There are many American expressions that use parts of the body. These include the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and even the heart. Today we will tell you some expressions that use other body parts – the back, shoulders and chest.

When I am facing a lot of pressure at work, my back and neck will start to hurt. Sometimes, this tension is the result of too much work. I have too many things to do because my supervisor is on my back all the time. In other words, my employer is always telling me to do things.

Sometimes, I want my employer to get off my back! I want her to stop criticizing me and making too many demands on my time. I can not say this, however. I would never turn my back on her and refuse to help when there is a need. If I did refuse to help, my supervisor might say bad things about me behind my back. She might criticize me when I am not present. This would surely be a stab in the back. It is never kind to unfairly harm or say bad things about other people.

Sometimes, when I am very productive in my job, my employer gives me a pat on the back. She praises my work. She might even say "I will scratch your back if you will scratch mine." This means she will do something for me, if I do something helpful for her in exchange. Such an offer usually comes straight from the shoulder. My supervisor has a very direct, open and honest way of speaking.

I know that my employer carries a lot on her shoulders. She is responsible for many things at the office. And because she is so important, she sometimes gets to rub shoulders with the top officials. She gets to spend time with some very important people.

I believe the top official values my superior. He never gives her the cold shoulder. He is never unfriendly to her. He always treats her like she is an important part of the organization.

I also value my supervisor. In fact, I think she is very effective in her job. Of course, I could yell my opinion at the top of my lungs, or as loudly as I possibly could. It might even feel good to get my emotions off my chest. It is always helpful to tell people how you feel so that your emotions do not trouble you.

But it is not necessary for me to praise my superior. Most of my co-workers feel the exact same way about her. So, I think I will just save my breath. I will keep silent because talking or repeating myself will not do any good.

(MUSIC)

WORDS AND THEIR STORIES, in VOA Special English, was written by Jill Moss. I’m Faith Lapidus.

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Expressions with the word dog

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011


Now, the VOA Special English program WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.

Americans use many expressions with the word dog. People in the United States love their dogs and treat them well. They take their dogs for walks, let them play outside and give them good food and medical care. However, dogs without owners to care for them lead a different kind of life. The expression, to lead a dog's life, describes a person who has an unhappy existence.

Some people say we live in a dog-eat-dog world. That means many people are competing for the same things, like good jobs. They say that to be successful, a person has to work like a dog. This means they have to work very, very hard. Such hard work can make people dog-tired. And, the situation would be even worse if they became sick as a dog.

Still, people say every dog has its day. This means that every person enjoys a successful period during his or her life. To be successful, people often have to learn new skills. Yet, some people say that you can never teach an old dog new tricks. They believe that older people do not like to learn new things and will not change the way they do things.

Some people are compared to dogs in bad ways. People who are unkind or uncaring can be described as meaner than a junkyard dog. Junkyard dogs live in places where people throw away things they do not want. Mean dogs are often used to guard this property. They bark or attack people who try to enter the property. However, sometimes a person who appears to be mean and threatening is really not so bad. We say his bark is worse than his bite.

A junkyard is not a fun place for a dog. Many dogs in the United States sleep in safe little houses near their owners' home. These doghouses provide shelter. Yet they can be cold and lonely in the winter.

Husbands and wives use this doghouse term when they are angry at each other. For example, a woman might get angry at her husband for coming home late or forgetting their wedding anniversary. She might tell him that he is in the doghouse. She may not treat him nicely until he apologizes. However, the husband may decide that it is best to leave things alone and not create more problems. He might decide to let sleeping dogs lie.

Dog expressions also are used to describe the weather. The dog days of summer are the hottest days of the year. A rainstorm may cool the weather. But we do not want it to rain too hard. We do not want it to rain cats and dogs.

(MUSIC)

This VOA Special English program, WORDS AND THEIR STORIES, was written by Jill Moss. I'm Faith Lapidus.

Words and Their Stories in VOA Special English

Now Play and Learn with the Words

Word Revision

Matching Game
Drag & Drop
Multiquiz – Definition
  Listen and Choose
  Listen, and put the words in order
 

 



Mouth Expressions

Monday, June 20th, 2011

People use their mouths for many things. They eat, talk, shout and sing.  They smile and they kiss.  In the English language, there are many expressions using the word mouth. But some of them are not so nice.

For example, if you say bad things about a person, the person might protest and say “Do not bad mouth me.”

Sometimes, people say something to a friend or family member that they later regret because hurts that person’s feelings.  Or they tell the person something they were not supposed to tell. 

The speaker might say: “I really put my foot in my mouth this time.”  If this should happen, the speaker might feel “down in the mouth.”  In other words, he might feel sad for saying the wrong thing.

Another situation is when someone falsely claims another person said something.  The other person might protest: “I did not say that.  Do not put words in my mouth.”

Information is often spread through “word of mouth.”  This is general communication between people, like friends talking to each other.  “How did you hear about that new movie?” someone might ask. “Oh, by word of mouth.”   A more official way of getting information is through a company or government “mouthpiece.”  This is an official spokesperson.  Government-run media could also be called a “mouthpiece.”

Sometimes when one person is speaking, he says the same thing that his friend was going to say. When this happens, the friend might say: “You took the words right out of my mouth!”  Sometimes a person has a bad or unpleasant experience with another person.  He might say that experience “left a bad taste in my mouth.”  Or the person might have had a very frightening experience, like being chased by an angry dog.  He might say: “I had my heart in my mouth.”

Some people have lots of money because they were born into a very rich family.  There is an expression for this, too. You might say such a person “was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.”

This rich person is the opposite of a person who lives “from hand to mouth.”  This person is very poor and only has enough money for the most important things in life, like food.

Parents might sometimes withhold sweet food from a child as a form of punishment for saying bad things.  For example, if a child says things she should not say to her parents, she might be described as “a mouthy child.”  The parents might even tell the child “to stop mouthing off.”  

But enough of all this talk.  I have been “running my mouth” long enough

Words and Their Stories in VOA Special English

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Expressions about Love

Monday, June 20th, 2011

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10 Common Expressions in English

Monday, June 20th, 2011

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7 Common English Expressions about Money

Monday, June 20th, 2011

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