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Some Common English Idioms, Part II

An idiom is basically a phrase that is figurative and used to describe literal situations with words that may not be clear to a non-native speaker. Last month we went through a selection of common idioms, and in this lesson we can go through some more that you may hear when you are speaking English with somebody.

 

So I think to kitesurf all year around, um, as a job and to do it 24/7, you need a break, and I mean, it may not seem like time off!

Captions 19-21, Sam Light: In a Nutshell

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The slang expression "24/7" is best explained in this video: 

 

It's basically 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Caption 22, World's Toughest Job: Official Video

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What do you want to get off your chest?

Caption 16, Comic-Con 2015: Jennifer Lawrence

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To "get something off your chest" is to admit something that has been bothering you.

 

Alaska's wide and very isolated mountains ranges are a paradise for these animals, but a nightmare for us, because it's like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Captions 35-37, Nature & Wildlife: Search for the Ghost Bear

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A needle is a small, very fine object, and to find it in a haystack, which consists of countless fine pieces of hay, is very difficult indeed—and this phrase thus means that something is very difficult or nearly impossible. 

 

If I was, for instance, being put into a courtroom with lawyers, I am not a lawyer, so therefore, I would feel like a fish out of water.

Captions 14-16, English: common phrases

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To feel "like a fish out of water" thus means to feel out of place or uncomfortable.

 

Hang in there, guys!

Caption 56, Movie Trailers: Disney's Frozen

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To "hang in there" means to be patient and to wait for something.

 

But they don't know where they're going in the fast lane.

Captions 16-17, Echosmith: Cool Kids

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This is often used in the expression "to live life in the fast lane," which means figuratively to live an exciting or stressful lifestyle, which may, depending upon the context, be a good or bad thing. The phrase is often about somebody who is on the verge of losing control of their life. A song by the 1970s pop group the Eagles called "Life in the Fast Lane" states that it will "surely make you lose your mind."  

 

Further Learning
Go to Yabla English and watch the "Common English" videos Part I and Part II to learn more about some English idioms. 

La primavera: Spring has sprung

Il passaggio dall'inverno alla primavera è caratterizzato dall'eguaglianza del giorno e della notte per tutti i luoghi della Terra e si chiama "equinozio di primavera". Sigrid ci ricorda che una delle feste primaverili è Pasqua:

 

Easter is a holiday that follows the vernal equinox.

Pasqua è una festività che segue l'equinozio di primavera.

We have an equinox when the night is the same length as the day:

Noi abbiamo un equinozio quando la notte ha la stessa durata del giorno:

twelve hours and twelve hours,

dodici ore e dodici ore,

and it's around the twenty-first of March, the beginning of spring.

ed è intorno al ventuno marzo, l'inizio della primavera.

Captions 6-9, Holidays and Seasons with Sigrid - Easter

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Come non ammirare i mille colori di cui si vestono prati e boschi di tutto il mondo nella bella stagione... ce lo ricordano anche i Pinker Tones, nel loro brano "Tokyo":

 

I promised that I'll take you for a ride

Ho promesso che ti porterò a fare un giro

To see cherry blossoms in the springtime

per vedere i fiori di ciliegio in primavera

Captions 22-23, The Pinker Tones - Tokyo

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In alcune parti del mondo, come l'Alaska, fino a qualche tempo fa, la primavera e l'estate avevano caratteristiche specifiche:

 

Spring and summer in Alaska are very short.

La primavera e l'estate in Alaska sono molto brevi.

Caption 34, Nature & Wildlife - Search for the Ghost Bear

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In realtà, nel mese di marzo, l'Alaska, tradizionalmente conosciuta come una delle regioni più fredde del pianeta, sta vivendo una lunga fase di caldo anomalo.

 

In questi due video Sigrid - Spring Musings e The Four Seasons - Spring, troverete tante informazioni relative all'abbigliamento consigliato e alle piante che crescono in primavera. 

 

Daylight Savings Time (l'ora legale)

A breve sposteremo avanti di un'ora le lancette degli orologi per sfruttare meglio l'irradiazione del sole. Questa convenzione da noi conosciuta come "ora legale", in inglese si chiama Spring Forward, Summer Time o Daylight Savings Time. Negli Stati Uniti, ha inizio solitamente la seconda domenica di marzo ed è sempre in questo periodo che si svolge una tradizione accademica conosciuta come spring break (vacanza di primavera). Numerosi studenti dei paesi anglosassoni (Regno Unito, Stati Uniti, Canada, Australia, Nuova Zelanda, ecc.) hanno a disposizione una settimana di vacanza durante la quale, in genere, si recano in un luogo turistico. Negli Stati Uniti la vacanza si può svolgere dalla fine di febbraio fino a circa metà aprile, ma il periodo più usuale è quello della prima metà di marzo. 

 

Altri significati di spring

La parola springoltre a "primavera", ha anche il significato di "fonte, sorgente":

 

A spring turns into a trickle.

Una fonte si trasforma in un rivolo.

Caption 27, Evolution - On Land

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E il verbo to spring significa anche "zampillare" e "azionare":

 

That makes tears want to spring to my eyes.

Questo fa venire voglia alle lacrime di zampillare dai miei [mi fa venire le lacrime agli] occhi.

Caption 38, Comic-Con 2015 - Jennifer Lawrence

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As soon as the shark calms down, the biologists spring to action.

Non appena lo squalo si calma, i biologi si mettono in azione.

Caption 71, Nature & Wildlife - Wild Sharks

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Vocabolario

There, they're, or their?

Homonyms are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings and usages. This can be confusing sometimes as one must rely on context to figure out which word is meant or should be used. 

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Even native speakers sometimes fail to use the homonyms "there," "their," and "they're" correctly. Here is a quick review of which one is appropriate for which occasion. 

 

1) The word "there" is used to refer to a physical or abstract location.

 

When I flew in on the float plane, they were all there on the boat.

Caption 4, Alaska Revealed - Endless Wave

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Also, it is commonly combined with a conjugation of “to be” or a modal verb to discuss the existence of something.

 

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done.

Caption 28, Barack Obama's Inauguration Day - Obama's Speech - Part 2

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I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus.

Caption 9, A Charlie Brown Christmas - Opening

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2) "Their" is a possessive adjective used before a noun when the subject is "they." With "their," we are speaking about something that belongs to two or more people.

 

What are their names? -Their names are Naya and Alex.

Caption 14, Caralie and Annie - Get to know each other

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Their goal is a plan to finally help humanity reduce its carbon footprint.

Caption 3, Green TV - What Is COP21?

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3) "They’re" is a contraction of "they are" used to refer to two or more people in the third person. It is especially useful for shortening sentences in the present continuous tense.

 

I think they're nice.

Caption 12, Comic-Con 2015 - Jennifer Lawrence

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They're playing a game on the lawn.

Caption 10, Jessica - in Prospect Park

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Further Learning
Check out the examples above on Yabla English to get a better sense of the full context for the use of "there," "their," and "they're." Try to write a few sentences in which you use two or even all three of these words to solidify your understanding. An example would be: "They're not sure when they will get there. It depends on when their plane lands."

Vocabulary

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