Today’s expression: “When you’re in a hole, stop digging.”

19 Oct

We all say embarrassing things sometimes. Things that make us look stupid. Things that show some strange opinions. But when you notice that you’re wrong, it’s a good idea to stop talking. Unfortunately some people never notice it, and they continue saying more and more stupid things.

When you’ve said something embarrassing or stupid, we say that you have “dug a hole for yourself”, and you are now in this hole. If you continue to talk, it is like digging even deeper. It becomes more and more difficult to come out of the hole.

Now I’m sure you understand the meaning of this advice: “When you’re in a hole, stop digging”.

when you're in a hole ... stop digging

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Today’s expression: “Cost the earth”

22 Apr

Today is Earth Day, so it’s time for an expression with “earth”.

We all know that the earth is very precious. So when we have bought something very expensive, we can say that “it cost the earth”. For example:

Mary: “Wow, your new ring is really stunning!”
Susan: “Of course, it cost the earth!”

In this picture, though, the demonstrators have a more direct, literal meaning in mind. They are using this idiomatic expression, to say that we are destroying the earth in order to create energy:

cost the earth

Today’s idiom: “Easter Egg”

17 Apr

Yes, you read that correctly, an “Easter Egg” can be an idiom.

As an idiom, an “Easter Egg” is a secret message, or a surprise, hidden in a computer system or in a work of art.

You’ve probably seen some of the jokes in the Google search engine. For example, if you search for “askew”, Google shows the result on a page that is actually askew, i.e. tilted, as in this picture:

Easter Egg - Google askew

There are also hidden messages in some famous works of art. This article shows some of the secret and cheeky messages that Michelangelo painted into his scenes in the Sistine Chapel: http://www.cracked.com/article_18386_7-mind-blowing-easter-eggs-hidden-in-famous-works-art.html .

Today’s idiom: “To Play Your Trump Card”

4 Feb

No, this idiom does not mean that you are friends with an idiot in the White House.

play-your-trump-card

In many card games, a TRUMP card is more powerful than the other cards. When you play this card, it beats the other cards.

So, the idiom “to play your trump card”, means that you are using an advantage that will help you to succeed in a situation.

Example: “In his job interview at Hitachi, he played his trump card when he answered a question in Japanese.”

“Go” and its prepositions and articles

29 Dec

To say that you’re going somewhere can be complicated in English. For example, we say: “go home” (no prepositions and articles), but “go to school” (preposition but no article), or “go to the supermarket” (preposition and article).

This chart shows typical examples of using GO correctly:

go-and-how-to-use-it-correctly-with-prepositions-and-articles

Saying HOW MUCH of something

27 Nov

In English, how do we say HOW MUCH of something we have? How do we measure things like chocolate, coffee or bread, for example?

This chart by vocabularypage.com shows some common ways of expressing quantities, or how much:

measure-words

Today’s expression: “so hungry I could eat a horse”

28 Aug

When you’re really, really hungry, the most common way to express it is by saying “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse”.

If you know a similar expression in another language, which animal is used there?

so hungry I could eat a horse

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