Thursday, January 1, 2099

Why idioms...

This is the first of a weekly blog to discuss the uses of American idiomatic expressions and their meanings. We hope to teach you to use common expressions so that you will sound like a native speaker. Each of the expressions used will have an explanation so you understand the meanings fully.

Check out the following blog to see an example of what this means. Write to me and let me know if this is helpful to learning American expressions or idioms. Feel free to ask for certain types or examples. (historical, common, unusual, etc.)

Hope to interact with you soon.

Friday, January 3, 2098

Test your skill and win a prize!

For what it’s worth”, in this competitive world of teaching English, we don’t plan to “fall flat on our faces”, in fact we will be the “dark horse” who not only “comes out on top” but “comes up smelling like a rose” to be the “cream of the crop” in “delivering the goods” when comes to innovative teaching of “sparkling” English.

1. For what it’s worth - This is a phrase that used as a preface to a comment or statement that may not be needed and is something extra, just in case it helps the situation at hand.
2. Fall flat on our faces - means to fail at something. As in people saying, “Don’t do it or you’ll fall flat on your face.
3. Dark horse - Hard to see at night and pertains to the unknowns in the industry. Our blog is a “dark horse” starting out but by word of mouth and you helping to spread the news, we will soon be a success.
4. Comes out on top - refers to winning and being first. If we are successful in teaching you new and different things, despite the competition, we will come out on top.
5. Cream of the crop - refers to the cream that always rises to the top of the bottle of milk. Cream being richer and more prized, is considered better than ordinary.
6. Comes up smelling like a rose - when it looks like it’s going to be damaging to the reputation or success, one emerges even better than before. Some people can fall into a pile of do-do and still “come out smelling like roses.”
7. Delivering the goods - now refers to being able to do something, to succeed in some effort or enterprise. I guarantee you, whatever I promise, I can deliver.

We shall be having weekly contests where you will have the opportunity of creating sentences with the most idiomatic expressions used in one sentence properly. Once a month, we will have the same contest for the most idiomatic expressions used in a paragraph that is linked in a meaningful way.

Weekly prize winners will have an essay corrected free of charge and Monthly prize winners will receive half an hour of FREE consultation through Skype on whatever subject they choose pertaining to learning English. So, put on your “thinking cap” and “squirrel away” those “golden nuggets” for your “shot at the prize”. “Early birds usually get the worm”.

Entries should be sent to:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How some expressions and idioms came about.

Would you like to know how many English expressions came about? Here are some facts about the1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, “Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water“..

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying “It's raining cats and dogs“.

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house.. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, Dirt poor. The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing.
As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence the saying a ”thresh hold“.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old“...

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, bring home the bacon. They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and “chew the fat“..

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or “the upper crust“.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat
and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of “holding a wake“.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (“the graveyard shift”) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, “saved by the bell” or was considered a …“dead ringer“..

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Today we are going to talk about the word "Beat". There are a number of expressions starting with "beat"

I don't want to "beat a dead horse" to death by repeating over and over the importance of "beating your gums" in order to learn to speak English properly.
We can't "beat around the bush" in telling you that you can "beat your brains out" studying and still not learn English well without repeating constantly after good speech. You can stop "beating your head against the wall" by taking our classes and learn to talk properly.

1. Beat a dead horse - to repeat something over and over in order when it is useless

2. Beating your gums - this is a rather graphic colloquial expression refers to talking loudly and continuously

3. Beat around the bush - speak in ambiguous terms or talk in vague terms

4. Beat your brains out - this odd but common expression means to tire yourself out by trying with all your energy to remember something or figure something out.

5. Beat one’s head on the wall - this refers to struggling to understand or achieve something and failing in the effort.