Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's madness!

If something is madness, it’s preposterous, absurd, ridiculous, foolish, insane, stupid, irrational or outrageous. We say this when we want to express how appalled we are with something.

1. This comic strip is a rip-off (parody) of a scene from the movie, “300”, where Leonidas, the king of Sparta, refuses to submit to Xerxes, the King of Persia. Leonidas draws his sword on the Persian messenger, to which the messenger exclaims: “No man, Persian or Greek… no man threatens a messenger! This is blasphemy! This is madness!” Leonidas responds, “THIS… IS… SPARTA!!” and at that kicks the messenger into a deep well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyIhxxvvy1Y

2. In Syria the government is cracking down harshly on any public protests and gatherings. As of January 7th, UNICEF reports that 384 children have been killed in 10 months of violence, and just as many detained. More than 5,000 civilians have lost their lives so far in the Syrian uprising. It’s simply madness!

3. The United Nations Environment Program claims "An area of rainforest the size of a football field is being destroyed each second". Unbelievably, over 69,000 acres of rainforest are burned every day in the world. Experts estimate that at the current rate of destruction, the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years. Experts also estimate that we are losing 130 species of plants, animals and insects every single day as they become extinct from the loss of rainforest habitats. Now that’s madness!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wear out

To wear out something means that it has come/ is coming to the end of its life through repetitive use.
Rugged = tough/ hard.  

1. Flip-flops take forever to wear out. The best part is that they are also cheap, so you get really good value for your money when you use them for many months or years.

2. It isn’t common to see children’s clothes wear out, simply because kids grow out of them so fast… before they have a chance to wear them out. That’s why in large families, the older kids hand their clothes down to their younger brothers and sisters.

3 When your brake pads or tires on your car wear out, they need to be replaced as soon as possible. It’s really dangerous to drive in wet weather with worn out brake pads or worn out tires. In Formula 1 racing, the drivers have to periodically go into the pit stop to change their tires because they wear out after a number of laps.

4. If someone “wears out their welcome” they stay as a guest for longer than someone expects them to, or they are no longer welcome. Do you know when it is time to leave someone’s house, or are you oblivious to (have no idea) the subtle hints that it is time to leave?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Be good at (something)

To be good at something is self-explanatory: it means exactly what it says. If you are good at something, you have a talent, skill or ability that other people can recognize as being good or excellent.

1. Most people think they are good at singing… until someone tells them otherwise, or until one day they hear their voice recorded.

2.  Brazilians are good at mixed martial arts and soccer, the French are good at making wine and cheese, Africans are good at learning many languages, the Kenyans are good at long-distance running, the Israelis are good at innovating new technology. What are people from your country good at (At least according to the typical stereotype)?

3. Most people say, “I used to be good at (something)”. What did you used to be good at? Do you think you could be good at it again?

4. I’m not normally good at telling jokes. It doesn’t come naturally to me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Splash out

If you splash out on something, you decide to spend more money than you usually do, usually on a luxury item. You treat yourself to something expensive or extravagant.

1.  Everyone likes to splash out once in a while and go to a restaurant, buy some new clothes or go on a trip overseas/ abroad. It all depends on how much money you have to splash out with.

2. Even in difficult financial times, people still like to splash out. They just splash out on more economical alternatives.

3. Do you work out (calculate) your budget before you splash out, or do you just spend money, hoping that you will somehow have enough money to pay for your living expenses after the fact?

4.  When people splash out at a mall, we can say that they are going on a “shopping spree”. The “magic plastic” (credit card) definitely helps when you want to buy tons of things that you can’t pay for right now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Enough said

You can say this when someone has just said something that doesn’t need any further explanation because it was easy to understand or obvious. It isn’t necessary to mention anything more related to the topic because it was self-explanatory. It’s also a way of saying, “I totally agree” or “it’s conclusive”.

- If I don’t increase the price of my English classes a little each year, then I won’t keep up with (stay at the same level of) the inflation.
- No problem Frank, enough said.

2. Many people believe that SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) will put the internet as we know it in danger. If Google, Wikipedia and many other internet giants are getting involved in the protest against SOPA, it must be serious... Enough said.

3. “Let he who has never sinned throw the first stone”. Enough said.

4. My mother used to tell us, “Two wrongs don’t make a right!” How can you argue with that? Enough said.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Look for

If you are looking for something, you are searching for it. A synonym for look for is “to seek”. 

1. Are you totally happy with your current job, or are you looking for a new one? If you don’t already have the perfect job, what would your dream job be? Is there anything stopping you from getting your dream job?

2. If you’re looking for a certain street or neighborhood, do you stop to ask for directions?

3 Are you still looking for the love of your life, or have you already found him/ her? Do you believe in “soul mates”?

4. Do you need to look for some things on the internet because you can’t find them in your town/ city? Here in Fortaleza, Brazil, I can’t seem to find face cloths. I’m not sure what people use instead, but I will find out soon I guess…

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bucket list/ Kick the bucket

A bucket list is a list of all the things you would like to accomplish/ achieve before you “Kick the bucket”, which is another way of saying, “to die”.

1. I would like to see the Great Wall of China, visit IguaƧu Falls and dive on the Great Barrier Reef before I kick the bucket. These are just a few of many places on my bucket list I’d like to visit.

2.  When you create a bucket list, you acknowledge that you will not live forever and that our time on this earth is limited. As a result you will begin to put things into perspective and use your time better.

3. If you keep putting off your dreams for “someday”, a bucket list will help you to get more focused.

4. In the movie, “The Bucket List”, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, “Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die” - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0825232/. The movie is both heartwarming and funny.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Run into

If you run into someone, it means that you meet them unexpectedly somewhere. You never planned to meet with them, so in most cases it is a coincidence that you happen to be in the same place at the same time.

1.  If you’re in a profession that deals with a lot of people each day, you are bound to run into a client, patient, colleague or acquaintance in any number of public places (outside of work).

2. It’s great to run into a friend that you haven’t seen for a long time.

3. I often run into students of mine at different malls, walking along the beach and especially at the supermarket.

4.  Have you ever run into a person you know in another city or in another country? That’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s almost unbelievable when it happens to you. You realize what a “small world” it is.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


If you are hooked on something, you are crazy about it or you are addicted to it. You could be devoted to something or captivated by it. You could also be obsessed with something.

1. Some people are hooked on caffeine and they don’t even know it. These are some of the products that contain caffeine: Coca-cola, tea, coffee, chocolate & Red bull. You know that you are hooked on coffee when you can’t live without it: if you get headaches when you stop drinking it or if you are cranky (irritable) before your first cup of coffee in the morning.

2. I am hooked on a number of TV series. What TV programs are you hooked on?

3. “The US remains hooked on foreign oil primarily because OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), especially Saudi Arabia and its neighbors, is skillful in its management of oil prices to maintain America's dependence.” – The Wall Street Journal.

4. Very few people are hooked on learning English as a hobby. Most people need to make a lot of effort and push themselves to learn because it’s a vital part of their career.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Run out

When something runs out, it is finished. 

1. I almost always used to run out of time while writing my exams. I always needed just an extra five minutes.

2. Most people start running out of money towards the end of the month, just before they receive their next paycheck. If you “live from hand to mouth”, you have just enough money to live on and nothing extra.

3 When your money runs out, you can either “beg, borrow or steal”. I think most people end up borrowing - either from a friend, or the bank. I really don’t like borrowing, so I try to be careful in planning and sticking to a budget so that my money doesn’t run out in the first place.

4. Do you run out of patience quickly or do you have the patience of a saint?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Come in handy

When something comes in handy, it is useful. It can help you in a particular situation, especially an unplanned/ unexpected situation.

1. A Swiss army knife always comes in handy (if you keep it in your pocket), even if it’s just to carve your name into a tree, peel an orange or to open a box.

2.  Even a paper clip can come in handy to MacGyver, because he can use simple things to get himself out of a predicament: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09UlB17cgKw

3. Phrasal verbs, idiomatic expressions and slang will come in handy when you want to understand an English native speaker in a conversation or in all types of media.

4. If you’re playing a game of cards, a joker can definitely come in handy. If you’re playing UNO, there are various cards that can come in handy, especially the multicolored ones. If you’re playing Monopoly, a “get out of jail free” card sure comes in handy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Put (something) off

If you put (something) off, you postpone it. You leave something for a later time that you really should do right now.

1.  There is an expression: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today”. Now there’s a piece of advice that is easier said than done. Here’s another version that I really like: “Never put off until tomorrow what you can completely forget about.” It is actually a joke, but in a way it makes sense, because sometimes we plan to do so many things which are unimportant, and by following the second piece of advice, we can simplify our lives.

2. When someone puts things off habitually, we say that they procrastinate. I think the number one reason for procrastination is laziness. Are you a chronic procrastinator?

3. What are some of the common things that you keep putting off? Do you procrastinate when it comes to replying to emails, studying for an exam, going to the dentist or starting an exercise routine?

4.  Do you think some cultures as a whole naturally put things off more than other cultures?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


If someone is being wishy-washy, they are indecisive and can’t make up their mind. They don’t have a defined opinion about a certain topic. Someone who is wishy-washy may also be weak in character, willpower or courage.

1. Are you an opinionated person who has a forceful opinion about everything, or are you (on the other end of the spectrum) a wishy-washy person? Do you have difficulty deciding where you stand on any issue, or are you easily convinced to change your opinion about something?

2. Do you agree with the following statement I found on the internet?: “Strong ideas survive, weak ones perish; there is no room for wishy-washy opinions and people”

3. If someone is sitting on the fence (cannot make a decision or decide what to believe) it could be that they are wishy-washy… or they may just want to be neutral or diplomatic and not take sides… or perhaps they don’t have enough information to make a decision.

4. A go-getter is not a wishy-washy person. Go-getters know exactly what they want – and they go and get it… they are proactive. On the other hand, there are people who are paralyzed with indecision because the risk may be too great. They go back and forth in their decisions and can’t seem to get to a point where they put their plans into action.